“I am a ghost and nobody's scared / they walk straight through me.” The opening lines of ‘Sodium Light’ might lead you to think Roy Gornall aka Boletes has some confidence issues. Elsewhere on this eight track mini-album of spare acoustic freak-folk, the Edinburgh musician takes this a stage further singing of poison, burial, weeds, impermanence and death. Songs are just acoustic guitar and voice with added atmospherics and layered electric guitar with occasional placid drums – like a softer-hued Espers or a quieter Sunburned Hand Of The Man without the drones. In ‘The Pigeon In The Murder’, Gornall sings of flaws and difference and not fitting in but in a child-like, hopeful lullaby. In the more malevolent, ‘Creature’ he imagines himself as a slithering subterranean dweller “slipping down the wishing well.” The mood Gornall creates is one of gently oppressive creepiness and claustrophobia – sounding like a less highly strung David Tibet - as he navigates these different characters and experiences.
Most songs are without a chorus or changing time signatures so there is a steadfast progression through the gloomy world of Boletes (I first listened to this late at night, alone, on headphones. Spooky). But some songs also off-set the eerieness with some quiet beautiful instrumental arrangements or touches: that hopeful chorus in ‘The Pigeon In The Murder’, the soothing strummed guitar of ‘Creature’, lonesome harmonica on opening prelude ‘When The Swelling’s Gone’ and the jaunty rhythms and brushed drums of ‘Eaten By Light’. ‘Khaki’ takes a different tack: a sleepy but sure of purpose instrumental with disembodied, heavily distorted even disguised voice over the top. It’s simultaneously distressing and calming.
There is a slightly theatricality to Gornall’s delivery – a over-eager relish for the words and phrases that signal the gloom - but there is also something deeply affecting (yes and downright creepy) to the mood it creates over a not-quite-an-album running time of 25 minutes. “Flaws” finishes with ‘Fruitless’: “It's all going to be [long pause] fine / It's all in my mind.” It’s a poignant but ambiguous and sinister finale – is the gloom imagined or is the relief? Dark tales for dark nights – or false dawns.Boletes - FLAWS - 02 Creature by boletes Boletes - FLAWS - 04 The Pigeon in the Murder by boletes
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