Review: Slowly Please - "Chalk Farm"

Slowly Please - Chalk Farm
(2017 Self-Released)

It's hard to be as dedicated to sedation as Nicolas Derbaudrenghien. From his glacially sized and paced post-rock arrangements to the yawning gusts of feedback that occupy them, each instrumental inhabitant of the Belgian shoegazer's output dutifully submits to the will of his solo project's name -"Slowly Please". His debut album, Chalk Farm, is a radical exercise in patience, kneading sluggish guitar riffs into their surrounding dronescapes for absurd lengths of time that somehow pass as quickly as pop tunes. With earbuds wedged into your canals, the record is a time-machine that only travels forward, transporting its passenger a solid hour into the future before they even realize they've left. 

Intro track "Tattoo" slowly burns as if mounted on a rotisserie, its drums muffled like a gloved hand's punch. A film of sustained keyboard first forms on the tune's surface, followed by the sort of gradual guitar bloom employed by older Scottish acts like The Twilight Sad, Mogwai, or even Cocteau Twins. Derbaudrenghien's vocals make a couple clutch cameo appearances across these initial 12 minutes of stagnant sludge, coming up for air long enough for the listener to take a breath and dive back into the distorted depths.

"Keep Straight on this Road" pulls more fuzz into its orbit, lassoing shrill peals of static with a galloping bass lick. Slowly Please resembles a version of Slowdive less constrained by traditional song-structures here, causing hefty chords to collide like tectonic plates. Thanks to the massive temporal space they have to work with, the ideas within this album have room to grow mountainous and dangerously saddled with kinetic energy.

Though not the best offering on the record, Chalk Farm's titular song stands at an impressive half-hour, heaving its earthen guitar slides into a quarry eroded by spaced-out snare hits. Field-recorded textures burrow their way into the piece, creating the atmosphere of an artificially-lit office filled with cubicles and fake ferns - it is woozy; trance-inducing even. It's the narcotic trance of the last hour of a work shift, creeping its way into nothing.