David Allred – The Cell review

Secret Meeting score: 78

by Philip Moss

Erased Tapes is positioning itself as one of the most important and consistent independent record labels operating in the world today. Its small roster – headed up by the peerless, Nils Frahm – continue to put out mesmeric, genre-defying music, and their latest release is The Cell by California based songwriter, David Allred.

On the title track and opener, Allred’s vocal is up front – but surrounding it is a soundscape of strings, synths and pianos that twist and turn, before his voice erupts into erratic falsetto. The decision to position a slow, spacious instrumental as the second track on a record may seem unusual, but following the whirlwind emotions of the opener, Mandatory Soul feels like the perfect, meditative tonic. Piano led, Nature’s Course, is the straightest example of Allred’s ear for a hook laden arrangement – the emotive, existential ballad teeters on the edge of pop before he concludes – ‘One day, the tide will rise, and wash over our lives.’ Full Moon has the feel of a Phil Elverum tape experiment, while closer, Lexington Hills, is a meandering piano piece that unexpectedly explodes and brings the LP to an anthemic conclusion.

Multi-instrumentalist, Allred, has blurred an arresting mix of Americana, classical compositions and spacious instrumentalism to create one of the most unique listening experiences of the year so far. Simply put, it is a joy, and further exemplifies the great work being put out by his London based label.

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