There is a certain weight to January Zero‘s latest album ‘The Long Radio Silence‘, that really shares a musical gravitas with listeners in a way bittersweet soundscape of gliding guitars, preening piano, spacey vocals, and an ambient mix that leaves one wondering if the album was indeed conceived through dreams.
January Zero is the brainchild of one Gareth Phillips, and while his whimsical writing, guitar, synth, and key work is enjoyable, to be sure, it would be nothing without his band of featured musicians. It would be some very thin run of this album without the added fullness of Dan Piccolo’s drums, Jim Roll’s organ, and Noelle Beverly’s vocals.
‘The Long Radio Silence‘, as a title, makes one wonder if January Zero is the breaking of that silence, or the subsequent cause of it. whichever way it goes, it is pretty clear that there is a bit of a maudlin melange of Neil Diamond, Robert Munsch, Woody Allen, and other references, winded whistling, and an ever-present chamber effect on Phillips’ voice.
The aforementioned weight of this album, or should one simply say ‘Gravity‘, is come from the darkened, and ambient attitude that accompanies the lyrics. Sure, the opening track has the feeling of a beautiful day of whimsy, and love, but the words aren’t such that would commit one fully to that sort of theme. In spite of that, January Zero does seem to be ‘Going Quietly‘ through the album. And perhaps it’s their ‘Borrowed Lives‘ that makes them go so silently. But the subdued sound of ‘The Long Radio Silence‘ really is a fantastic feature. It really allows the listener to focus on the intricacies of the music, as well as the meaning of the lyrics.
There are some interesting technical choices in this album. The rather abrupt cut between some of the tracks, the clear sound of a chair shifting in one of the tracks (as the lyric sings of sitting), the additional recording studio dialogue, and other studio shifting, along with a sharply cut subway train really seem to make for a bit of a disruption of the otherwise fairly masterful music. Perhaps the live feel is what is aimed for here, but then the intense vocal effect could probably be done away with in that regard. There is indeed something otherworldly about this music that, again, makes one think of the disorder of dreams.
All of this is not to say that this is not a worthwhile album to listen. The dark, soft, and simultaneously sweet album really does get me somewhere deep down with its jazzy, smooth “indie” folk rock, and laudable lyrics. And hell, the build of the ‘Desperation Shuffle‘ is exquisite (the album is worth the listening to, even just for this composition).
To close with a bit of a ‘Decrescendo‘ (Another of my favourites on the album), ‘The Long Radio Silence‘ is certainly worth listening to (no matter how contradictory that might seem to sound). January Zero has hit upon some sort of swath of sullen songs that really pull listeners in. Check out the album in full right over HERE, and if you’re inclined to learn more about January Zero, or keep up to date with their music, click right HERE