after the water

by de trop

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De Trop certainly doesn’t make it easy for someone to gather even the most scant information about this Glaswegian duo. Apart from the one-sheet accompanying the release of After the Water, De Trop seems to be shrouded in as much mystery as its latest release. After listening to After the Water a few times, the absence of press, scene hype, or biographical data makes this record’s anomalous ambition, full of wonderful drone properties and melancholic scenery, all the more curious. The dictionary defines De Trop as “excessive” or “too much”; the irony is not lost as De Trop coaxes minimalist 4-track lo-fi elegies and plaintive environmental ambience seemingly from thin air. After the Water threads delicate weaves of melancholic musique concrete, guitar static and hum, and subtle hymns for deserted cities and buildings at night. After the Water is built up solely from the embers of stark guitar, out-of-tune piano, tinkling found sound, and dense washes of drone and ambience.

Opening track “Stars and Angels” is a slow-motion drone, painting strokes of grey landscapes in an abandoned industrial building. This curiously gives way to follow-up track “Foo,” which starts life as a slow-core guitar riff that could be lifted from any glacially paced antecedent. It soon develops into a circuitous repeating guitar line, underpinned by an undulating melodic lead with a muted roots feel and lush ambient background swirls. “Cracked Bleeding Lips and Red Shoes” hangs on a damaged wire of broken circuitry, enmeshed by feedback manipulation.

Both “Little Broken Kittenheart” and “Angels Hanging From a Rope in a Darkened Room” serve as melodic and intricate counter weights to the dense tonal blocks found elsewhere on the album. They also serve as a road map and give some insight into the impetus and inspiration behind some of the tracks on the album. Both tracks start from a Godspeed/Set Fire to Flames axis but luckily progress from this into its own trajectory. The former is a mantra-like toybox rhythm that whirls like a Victorian madrigal played by Coil, while screwdriver guitar (a self-conscious Godspeed affectation) gently builds in slow dense curlicues. The latter starts off, again, with a Godspeed/Set Fire to Flames pastiche that alternates between gently strummed Velvet Underground-styled guitar and manipulated echo and flanged guitar, sounding not unlike a low-flying aircraft.

With a few stumbles along the way, most notably “For the Duck People” that borders on libellous for its proximity to A Silver Mt.Zion’s “This Gentle Hearts Like Shot Birds Fallen,” De Trop has come up with a flawed, yet pleasing diamond in the rough debut. After the Water shimmers with hope and promise in its languid bedroom 4-track vistas. Mind you, a greater breadth of panoramic hues and colors, plus more fully formed plot lines rather than sonic meanderings, should make De Trop something to keep an eye out for in the future.


released October 30, 2004

written and recorded by krist moran and colin laughland at Jzajza between 2002 - 2004



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