Review Archive

‘Cultural Envelope’ from Slight Birching … essentially elusive

(July 29, 2014)

I tried hard to engage with this album. No matter how hard I tried, and believe me I did try, it remained essentially elusive. That may of course be exactly what the artist intended but there was simply too Slight Birchingmuch distance in there for me. The experimental essence was perhaps too subjective to reach beyond the personal, maybe the hidden meaning was too well camouflaged, perhaps the strange and inconsequential sound effects just got in the way, whatever it was it kept me at arm’s length.

‘Cultural Envelope’ from Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Slight Birching (aka Sean Travis Ramsay) doesn’t exude engagement, its wandering ambient experimentation with electronic elements added over talking-style lyrics are too introverted. Then again, it’s so hard to pin down that whatever labels you feel compelled to add are probably inaccurate.

The inclusion of discordant sound bites and sweeping synth-cuts mixed with finger-picked acoustic and electric guitars make this album hard to absorb. Songs like ‘Get Up In The Morning And Fight’ and ‘Ineffables’ are unnecessarily distant and difficult. Then again, when Slight Birching reduces his electro-synth indulgences, with songs like ‘Beacon Hill’ and ‘You Have No Place To Go’ there’s a faint but insistent glimmer of enticement, until of course the sound effects return. I felt as though I wanted to enjoy this album but ultimately some of its elements shut me out.

Reviewer: Charlie Elland

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