Soft Estate The Painted Ship

Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox
27th June 2022

Michael's Pick

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The second drop on Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox is this deeply evocative, gently psychedelic EP from a group called Soft Estate, seemingly the recording name of an Alan Outram and guest vocalists. As far as curators of an aesthetic go, you can’t fault the Mammas crew as this sinks elegantly into their sound. Perhaps more recognisably English – at least in the accents – Soft Estate evoke Broadcast’s use of synths and softly crooned vocal or maybe a little like The Green Child records on Upset The Rhythm we dig so much, or even Virginia Wing’s mid period.

Analog synths, reverb and echo form the canvas on which vocalists Lauren Paige Dowling and Evie Jeanne paint carefully considered vignettes that recall other hauntological influences (see, the Folklore Tapes catalog or Ghost Box) and visions of Albion found in the cracks of recognisable reality. There’s shades of groups like Hydroplane too maybe, with a sort of rueful yearning in the way the vocals are delivered.  On Side B, From One Estate To Another has a gently bobbing quality like it’s beamed in from the outskirts of the late 70s Synth Wave before everything was over-codified, like the first few releases on Mute, pre-4AD label Axis or Solid Space’s make-do genius. Soft Estate’s gentle obfuscation – slathered echo effects, some rich tonal choices on the synths belie the fact that this EP is full of pop songs that, had they been given a more hi-fi treatment would have a polish a lot of artists would kill for. The fact they’re presented in this hermetically-sealed unit, mysterious release only adds to their appeal. Wonderfully exporting.

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