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.

Track List 
01: Epi­logue (After Touch) 
02: How To Paint Clouds 
03: Inter­face
04: Remain­ing Light 
05: Still life  
06: Are They Signs? 
07: Clear Blue Sky 
08: Morn­ing Sun 


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