Houses – A Quiet Darkness
Houses duo Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina met at an Apple store in Chicago. Three years later they moved to Hawaii. There they lived in solitude, consequently creating music that escaped the threat of becoming impure in the surrounds of a society. The subsequent album, All Night was confident with its chilled ambience, untrammelled by any worries of the outside world. This year however, sees the pair relocate to a hugely populated Los Angeles with their latest album A Quiet Darkness based on samples collected from derelict buildings along the highways of California.
Through this, there exists the idea of human trace – you could almost say that what Tortoriello and Messina are striving for is a sense of belonging, searching for a civilisation along ghostly roads via a story of loss among a nuclear disaster. Unfortunately, this concept seems to speak louder than the work itself.
A fusion of Beach House and M83, the album is cinematic, its slow tempo and soft vocals existing in tracks such as Beginnings and The Beauty Surrounds leaving the listener in a state of drowsiness. The album more or less consists of Tortoriello’s drained voice sympathised with the haunting harmonies of Messina, with twinkles and dreamy synths filling in the gaps of four-bar piano chords. It’s present in the first track, then the next and then the one after that.
This lack of a crescendo leaves A Quiet Darkness with no highpoint, thus it becomes rather monotonous (although, at times, this sense of consistency may work to compliment the album’s bleak narrative). The problem with this is that the album is so obviously sad. And as beautifully ambient as this music may be, overall A Quiet Darkness is disengaging and at times quite tedious to listen to. There are no intense moments and no surprise when the two characters meet their inevitable death.
A Quiet Darkness was released on 16th April.
Watch the video for The Beauty Surrounds here: