Royal Horticultural Society
Lurching and woozy, the synthesized timbres on 'California Poppy' swirl the brain as if it were a great pulsating paint pot. The colours lazily drip through the body and form a puddle of glowing warmth in the pit of the stomach. It’s a perfect opening track for David Douglas’ debut release, 'Royal Horticultural Society'. In it, 'California Poppy' is an unexpected spring that emerges without warning and now bubbles away somewhere high. Should you choose to follow the serene flow of its river to conclusion, you shall most likely find yourself greatly rewarded for your time.
Drifting through various styles seamlessly, 'Royal Horticultural Society' touches on techno, adds dashes of cinematic ambience and even flirts with pop. It’s an EP that’s fabulously produced and constantly engaging. The soulful croons in 'Follow the Sun' sound as though they’ve been lifted from a 90’s Ministry of Sound compilation, and they sit comfortably here in this new, much more low-key and pensive environment. And this sort of reflective nostalgia is much welcomed. Elsewhere, the record drives with a clearer sense of direction, happier to move forwards than dwell on what is already said and done.
Athabasca Pass pounds a 4/4 kick through brass swells that disappear into the night. This track seems to perfectly capture the act of returning home from a club at 4am, the internal reverberations of the music and the atmosphere fading away into the cold morning streets. It seems that this collection of songs demonstrate Douglas’ impeccable grasp on the concept of subtlety and its appropriate application. The pair of ambient interludes, 'Nocturne Dans La Nuit' and 'Lupin Interlude' hang heavy in the air for their short duration, each one being a crucial link that guides the overall atmosphere of the EP rather than the pointless filler that interludes often turn out to be.
Signaling the end of our journey, 'Mauna Kea' cries sour string drones and vocals, shrouded by the thick doleful atmosphere, but this sadness is counterbalanced by a skittering high tempo rhythm that picks up on the orchestral tones and highlights their organic beauty. From 'Royal Horticultural Society’s beginnings as a heady summer day, the course it runs takes us to a much darker place as it bleeds into a cold foggy harbor, far removed from the babbling spring where we started. But as humans we possess the ability to find beauty in things both dark and light, and such forms of beauty are immediately present in this EP. Its lows are gloriously low and its highs triumphant; 'Royal Horticultural Society' is a piece of work that ought not to go unnoticed.
Posted: Sun 17 June 2012