Berlin-based heavy psychedelic rockers Slowshine release their debut album, Living Light, this week on The Lasting Dose Records. They’re a new band with some familiar faces in Sabine and Jan Oberg — bass and guitar/vocals, respectively — who play together in Earth Ship and Grin too, as well as drummer André Klein (also of Earth Ship), and as Slowshine, they bring together elements of sound enough apart from their past work to justify being distinguished as their own project. Living Light — which as a title conjures images both of an existence without clutter and actual sentient luminous waveforms; perhaps some kind of transcendent being — comprises eight tracks and as a first-with-the-asterisk-of-all-the-stuff-they’ve-done-together outing from the group, offers 43 minutes of immersive, richly melodic and thickened psych. Songs like the eight-minute highlight “Wanderer” and subsequent “Mother Moon” owe some measure of debt to ’90s Britpsych, and the laid back vocal that tops “Dunes of Time” calls to mind Quest for Fire, albeit over a more active instrumental context, but ultimately Living Light is difficult enough to place in time that it can only be modern.
The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that the Obergs and Klein hit the studio for four live sessions during lockdown with pizza, wine and little idea of what they were going to come out with. An entirely plausible scenario, especially with Jan running his own studio at Hidden Planet, but that shouldn’t lead one to believe before diving in that what comprises these songs isn’t considered or constructed. They are songs, not just jams, and however much of them was put to tape/hard-drive live, they’ve been built up from that initial skeleton, as the layering of guitar in the title-track or even the guest 12-string from Neànder‘s Jan Korbach on the unabashedly poppy opener “Trails” showcase.There’s conception at work, and even if Slowshine didn’t plug in at Hidden Planet with a direct intention toward creating this sound in this style with these songs, at some point in the process they knew they had a cohesive album on their hands. Which they do.
Moreover, Living Light stuns with its depth of mix and unassuming spaciousness — like, “we’re just gonna put the cosmos here for a bit, no worries” — and whether in the more active “Brittle Bones” or “Heights” that lead to the grand chillout of purposefully slow riffing at the outset of “Wanderer,” or in the relatively aggressive flashes at the end of “Mother Moon” or in the midsection of closer “A Quiet Place,” it finds a way toward a more soothing disposition. Given the time and circumstances in which it was created, this could just as easily be the band comforting themselves as thinking of an audience, but it comes through in the warmth of tone and melody one way or the other. And even in those meaner or darker moments, the overarching atmosphere of Living Light is maintained, such that the end of “Wanderer” can devolve into a scramble of guitar noise or “A Quiet Place” can cap with an echoing, carefully patient drone without being so brazenly inconsistent with the likes of “Trails” or “Heights” or “Dunes of Time” as to make the album feel uneven. Rather, it feels complete, dynamic. And as a first impression, the three-piece seem to exhibit more control over their direction than they’re ready to admit to having. It’s hard not to appreciate that.
One gets the sense from Living Light, and again, from the story behind it, that this would be a hard moment to recapture. Hopefully, no more lockdown, and while pizza and wine and the means of live recording are certainly available, to attempt to directly recreate what led to the creation of Slowshine could result in something less organic than these songs seem to be. The answer might be time — as in, taking theirs — and it might not. I don’t know, and it depends entirely on their internal creative process. In any case, what Jan, Sabine and André — you guys mind if we use first names? thanks in advance — have crafted is an essential beginning that seems only to leave doors open for further wandering, adventuring, experimenting and realizing. These songs serve a united purpose through varied means, and even if a theoretical future Slowshine release invariably sets a different goal, because at this point the band have to acknowledge that they’re a band, there’s breadth laid out here just waiting to be explored, and that is only a worthy endeavor. One of 2021’s most encouraging debut albums.
Full premiere and some word from the band and buy link follow.
Jan Oberg on Living Light:
During pandemic lockdown in 2020/2021 where it was not possible to easily meet with your friends or families on New Year’s Eve and Easter time, we decided to isolate ourselves on those days in the studio with some super good Sicilian quality wine and classic pizza margherita. Having a good time while recording some tracks just for fun — no clear idea about what each song would sound like and if they would properly work with one another.
Those live sessions really differed from our other projects, musically as well as recording wise and we ended up with material of about 43 minutes in total that was just too good to not share with all of you.
Release Date: October 8th 2021 (Digital/Tape) | November/December 2021 (Vinyl)
The Lasting Dose Records – https://thelastingdoserecords.bandcamp.com/
Sabine Oberg – Bass
Jan Oberg – Guitars, Vocals
André Klein – Drums
Tags: Berlin, Germany, Living Light, Slowshine, Slowshine Living Light, The Lasting Dose Records