It took me a while to warm fully to the Olde English Spelling Bee label. Earlier releases had plenty of interesting goings on to zone in and out of, but often sounded a bit similiar and too reliant on the hypnogogic. Forest Swords aside, and possibly James Ferraro’s Last American Hero, I’ve not really engaged with the LP releases so far. But then came the double release of Pigeons Si Faustine (also highly recommended) and Julian Lynch’s Mare. ‘Coming of age’ is probably disrespectful to the labels experimental origins, but these albums do seem to represent a maturing for the label; at least from the perspective that adulthood (generally) means a less noisy, more structured approach to things.

That is not to say they have completely done away with the bleary eyed aesthetic the label has become so strongly associated with. Just Enough invites you in with some gentle feedback, a warming lightbulb in a darkened room providing just enough momentum to waken. A disorienting just-off-key loose guitar pluck accompanies Lynch’s vocals, buried deep in the mix, giving the start of the album a highly intoxicated atmosphere. Indeed, it continues in a similar vein. Edges are blurred further by a series of instrumental or near instrumental tracks, Lynch’s vocals providing only the occasional splash of colour through the albums muddied mid-section. An unexpected moment of jazz fusion on Ruth My Sister obfuscates further, as the album evades each pigeon hole it passes.

Lynch’s voice continually evolves with the subtly changing musical directions, being used as a instrument rather than as a transmitter of information, lyrics generally remaining indistinct but pitch and tone shifting to suit. The album finishes with highlight In New Jersey, as close to an anthem the scene is ever likely to produce, albeit a scratchy, fidgety one; humble to the point of discomfort.

Mare is a wonderfully opaque album that never quite comes fully into focus. It is however developed enough that it provides a way forward for the hypnogogic aesthetic, bridging the murky ether with something more tangible; something you could describe with some confidence as a collection of songs. Lynch stumbles out from the slumber state with some intricate songwriting that sets him apart from the broad brushstrokes of his label mates, whilst still retaining an illusive quality that evades categorisation but exemplifies a liberated creativity. OESB are certainly establishing themselves as one of the most exciting labels around at the moment.

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