Chillwave is all around, still. But what is this trend or semi-hype (it’s not that big…) anyway? Coined by the british music press, this term is supposed to sum up the works of a new wave of producers like Toro Y Moi, Twin Shadow and more sporting a subtle approach to their music while mixing classic singer/songwriter-aesthetics with various musical influences, mostly a derivate of downbeat and synth-pop. It’s been dubbed as “Dreampop” before (especially for bands like School Of Seven Bells, have i ever mentioned that they’re great?) or “Glo Fi” and illustrates the desperate hunt for new trends quite accurately.
But all this word-mongery rubbish aside, the second album from Los Angeles-based Duo Houses is a fine example of an album full of sleepwalkish and fragile popsongs, wrapped in a dense and homogeneous fabric of sound with dreamlike quality.
And also the backstory is of interest – Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina aka Houses wanted to get away from all the bedlam that is L.A. and spent three month on Hawaii, just cooling down and staying away from all the hassle. And in the process, they formulated “A Quiet Darkness”, an album that encircles a story about a couple that got separated by a nuclear holocaust and their attempt to reunite somewhere on California’s highway #10. Well, the times when concept albums roamed the earth is long gone and i can’t remember the last time someone took upon the streets to demand a new one. But i always find it a nice twist, if someone brings another meta-layer onto an album, trying to hold together the pieces, nonetheless if it’s just 10 songs thrown together in any case possibly maybe.
Anyway, “A Quiet Darkness” stands out from a lot of the others from the chillwave-theme-park, be it for the solid production, the homogenic sound and the good songs – this album also manages to create a unique atmosphere of melancholy and sometimes hopelessness, but always with underlinings of iron will and unbreakable hope. It’s somewhat – please excuse the simplicity – beautiful.