‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Traveller’ is the 8th album by Nottingham based band Radium88. The band consists of Jema Davis who provides the delicate and ethereal vocals and Tim Thwaites, who pretty much does everything else!
I must confess an ignorance of the band up until recently when I discovered a track titled ‘ The Futures bright, The Futures Incandescent’ ,their contribution to Toby Mark’s (of Banco de Gaia fame) recent compilation ‘Strange Eyed Constellations'.
This album represents somewhat of a ‘stylistic leap sideways’ for the band, according to the blurb that I received with the album.
It certainly builds upon the ambient dub like textures apparent on ‘The Futures bright’ with a more, at times, guitar and beat driven formula; however, funnily enough, for me the more interesting and richly textured tracks are the ones of a more sedate vintage (although the change in tempo mid song during Track 4 ‘Renunciation Blues’ from a Dubby chugger to a slide guitar driven voodoo wig out is simply superb. My only complaint with this track is that it could have gone on for longer).
The album begins with ‘Disavowed, no doubt unaware’ sounds like it being heard over the airwaves beamed out for the depths of space. This segues nicely into ‘who will save us from the waves?'
Track 5 ‘Washed by Gravity’s Waves’ is reminiscent of a lullaby overheard from Cygnus XI- quaint and yet somewhat disturbing. This sense of unease and melancholy seems to permeate throughout the album, in keeping with the title and track names, perhaps representing a concept?
The beginning of Track 6 ‘The girl who outshined the Void’ with its gorgeous piano refrain put me in mind of an out-take from the Blade Runner soundtrack, before gentle beats are layered to aid a perfect accompaniment to the piano.
‘Heavy water, falling Stone’ is simply sublime- building delicately with Jema’s floating, choral vocals, it also progresses to become subtly more beat driven, intertwined with some excellent guitar work- all the parts working together in perfect harmony. This track for me perfectly utilises Jema’s vocals to full strength
‘The disappearing skies’ is the sound of a Parisian Café magically transported to the beach of some far off star.
Things seem to kind of weaken after this, with nothing seeming to match the imagination of the tracks that have gone previously.
Overall this is a good album with some lush and sophisticated ideas. Radium88 have served up a strange little dish (no bad thing in a world of X-Factor and its homogeneous banality) with more than a hint of melancholy, but with moments of genuine lightness and charm.
Reviewed by Matthew Foord
This album was released by Lotek Recordings on the 1st of November 2015 and widely available for purchase