Shield Patterns – Contour Lines
These songs; even the titles build anticipation. Carve the Dirt. Dust Hung Heavy. Present State. Claire Brentnall and Richard Knox’s debut is a hyper-realised, hugely individual work that splices song-craft with darkly sumptuous electronica.
The term’s waning critical currency is a symptom of its over-use, but, for once, here’s an album, such is its scope, that’s properly cinematic. Tracks journey and unfold. Take the discordant clatter of Charon: its extended opening, its unexpected flicker of melody, its deathly fade. Contour Lines’ grandiose orchestrations aim high – think Kate Bush’s Ninth Wave meets Massive Attack’s Mezzanine via Bartok.
Buried somewhere within, Brentall’s words are beautifully emblematic: befitting its expressionist stylings, she enacts, rather than delivers. On more than one level, it’s beyond words. Ten songs that, from a distance, are almost overcome by their own self-effacing modesty. Ten songs that carry enough charge to burn a hole in your heart. Contour Lines is immense.