Emerging from a misty and dreamy landscape comes the second album from Canadian outfit Absolutely Free called Aftertouch, released September 24 on Boiled Records. The band caught my attention earlier in the year with the thought-provoking single How to Paint Clouds – the second track on this new release.
Absolutely Free, comprising the core trio of Matt King (vocals/multi-instrumentalist), Michael Claxton (bass / synth), and Moshe Fisher Rozenberg (drums / synth), has taken seven years to release this new album. Aftertouch combines psych and prog but embraces a wider retro feel, with funk, motorik, dance and pop adding to the mix, allowing the band to experiment with greater forms of expression.
The opener is the curiously titled Epilogue (After Touch) and the final track is called Morning Sun, a symbol of the circular rather than a linear approach to the work. Epilogue, drenched in synths, settles you immediately into a dreamy and calm state, setting the scene for what is to follow. The aforementioned How to Paint Clouds comes up next: released as a single a few months ago, this shimmering, nervy track was a first glimpse from the new album (review here).
The fourth number, Remaining Light stands as a pivotal work on the album – written in 2016, it “tackles issues of structural racism, poverty and injustice embedded within society’s corrupt systems”, after a spate of police brutality against marginalised populations. This is a tensely-paced piece with its slowly unfolding intro, recalling mid-era Pink Floyd in the plaintive and echoey vocals.
Aftertouch is a triumph of an album, with beautifully balanced arrangements and lyrics that express a wealth of ideas and subjects – ranging from musings on artistic expression to societal injustice. Despite its introspective nature, the overarching atmosphere is of light and playfulness, melodic, very uplifting, and catchy. Maybe you’ll find yourself dancing to it. Just what is needed in these strange times.
01: Epilogue (After Touch)
02: How To Paint Clouds
04: Remaining Light
05: Still life
06: Are They Signs?
07: Clear Blue Sky
08: Morning Sun
AFTERTOUCH OUT SEPT 24 PREORDER HERE