by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
On his albums to date, Daniel Avery has used music as a tool for escapism, dealing as he calls it in ‘misty-eyed euphoria’.
Ultra Truth is the first of his albums to take a completely opposite approach, looking to face the darkness of our times head on. Avery does so with a big production arsenal, aided by Ghost Culture and Manni Dee, while guest vocals are provided by HAAi, Jonnine Standish (HTRK), AK Paul with the voices of Marie Davidson, Kelly Lee Owens, Sherelle and James Massiah.
What’s the music like?
Given the brief outlined above, it comes as no surprise to report that Ultra Truth is a big beast of an album. It’s cover is a remarkably accurate guide to the music contained within, which twists and turns through various forms of discomfort, while also finding broad canvases of dark ambience. These become an effective and alluring backdrop.
The album is full of imaginative rhythms and big, big spaces. No space is bigger than the one found on the deeply mysterious Wall Of Sleep, which has a wall of sound and a thumping good rhythm, not to mention enchanting vocals from HAAi. Higher is equally immersive only with darker colouring, supported by an ominous bass sound. Lone Swordsman, meanwhile, has a fluorescent loop dancing in the middle distance
Sometimes the thick ambience can be oppressive, and Overflowing With Esscape expands so the speakers can barely contain its far reaching tendrils. By contrast, a track such as Collapsing Sky has an empty, remote feel – yet the floated chords still offer a form of consolation.
Avery’s rhythm tracks are often busy, providing a percussive clatter for the likes of Devotion, while thick and intensely ambient figures hang above like musical clouds. Only has more of a shoegaze / Cocteau Twins feel.
Does it all work?
It certainly does. As with his previous long players, Avery shows an effortless ease with structures large and small, meaning the listener can dip into individual tracks or pan out for the whole magnum opus.
Is it recommended?
Without hesitation. This is an artist whose body of work is gaining in stature with each release, as deep emotion and musical sensibilities sit seamlessly together. Another outstanding release.