cssc's previous release 'After Tides' had a sense of a journey about it; ambient, electronic and post-rock elements combined to produce something flowing, soothing. 'Overgrown' is like a layman's massage: sometimes it hits the spot, and occasionally it grinds a knuckle clumsily into the point of a bone. You're loath to grimace or complain as it's clear so much attentive tenderness is going into the effort. It undeniably struggles to maintain the rich atmosphere present in a handful of the tunes and consequently it creates the impression of a fairly disparate collection of his contemporary work; a rough scrapbook with some very attractive pages, to put it nicely.
'Comatose' is a rusty old bramble-infested entrance to come in from. Synth and subtly-manipulated feedback intertwine to great effect; alas, the bass and drums sound like an audio workstation demo function. Maybe if I'd heard it 15 years ago I'd have been taken aback, but the sublime grating against the ridiculous when distorted guitar stabs come in is almost comedic. It's only half way through the jazzy next track, 'Sweet Slow Death' that the execution starts to sound natural and all the elements work together.
It seems like 'Overgrown' is destined to be mired in rather dull and forced down-tempo electro-psych until things perk up again part way through 'Stop Motion'. This is a hundred times better! It starts to throb, come to life, noises clashing to form strange modulations, banishing that shit plastic bass sound from my mind. 'Time to Grow', with its pitter-patter-raindrop keys and childhood chatter, tries so hard to be Boards of Canada but would actually work better as a drumless ambient piece as the dry, perfunctory beats only serve to obscure the beauty of the other arrangements. 'Bloom' is also better than the bulk of the remainder, letting the colours seep in, allowing the mind to wander from thoughts of a grey digital console.
So accomplished and clean are the ambitions of 'Overgrown' that when it falls short it lacks both humble, ragged charms and the precise punch of its peers. 'Wither. Wilt' achieves lift-off; all city shadows at dawn and contemplative brass, culminating in a glorious distorted sunrise. However, the closing 'Old Soul' is neither delicate enough to enchant nor adequately forceful to engage. Half a good album spread out over 50-odd minutes, this almost overbearing quest for an elusive identity makes for a difficult listen.
Posted: Wed 25 July 2012