Pale Fire is not any happier of an album than previous compositions that El Perro del Mar’s sole member, Sarah Assbring, has come up with. Yet, the ominous vibe present in much of her music is actually cathartic and makes for good company.
The first track, also entitled ‘Pale Fire’, opens the album with a soulful bliss. It has a nice relaxing feel but increases in its intensity thanks to the drum machine.
‘Home Is To Feel Like That’ is an emotional track that captures the indescribable feeling of being in love. There are implications of tragic loss emerging from the sounds of the reverberating synth.
Sometimes music works best with empty spaces — when it’s stripped down from its shell — allowing sound to glide with no restrictions or overlapping instruments. ‘Love In Vain’ is a great example of this; the song takes a minimalistic approach, with hints of slow reggae.
Constructed with various electronically driven hooks, ‘Dark Night’ ends the album on a good note and the repeated melodies created by the synth and other filters add depth to the song.
Some might not agree, but El Perro Del Mar has always been one to experiment with the concept of “innovating the space between sounds”, which is a notion usually explored by electronic musicians and producers. In this respect, Assbring is certainly unique and has proven capable of successfully incorporating modern and traditional instruments into her music with this album.
All in all, Pale Fire is worth listening to, though its heavy – almost despondent – sound might not be for everyone. If this album doesn’t connect with you at the first listen, give her previous albums a try and perhaps you might appreciate this one better.
Listen to: ‘Hold Off The Dawn’, ‘Love In Vain’, ‘Pale Fire’
By Shawn Ng