EP Review: James McLaughlin – Desuetude

James McLaughlin is a freelance producer, sound designer and audio engineer from Scotland who has been playing and composing music for over 20 years. He has experience working with a variety of different clients over the years and is available for hire now, if you have need of his services head on over to his website. Also you can find out a little bit more about the behind the scenes info on this EP by clicking here.

Before we move on to the actual review, full disclosure on this one. James is my brother-in-law, he also happens to be one of the greatest people I know; he is kind and generous, clever and funny and he also happens to be a wonderful father as well. In short he is exactly the type of person I want to be when I finally grow up…whenever that’s scheduled to happen. It’s no surprise of course, considering my wonderful older sister picked him, because she also happens to be one of the greatest people I know. However, despite all of that, I prescribe to a code of ethics which requires me to be honest, forthright and fair in all of my reviews, so much like my review of his previous EP which you can check out here, you can expect those same ethical standards. But, anyway, today I will be reviewing his new EP ‘Desuetude’ which was released on July 27th 2021. Oh also just in case you’re interested Desuetude means ‘a state of disuse’.

‘Liquid Shadows’ is all the beauty of nature, the gentle sounds of birds backed up by a building, sustaining note that adds a sense of energy to the melody. This builds, and flows into soft instrumental backing which adds a rich harmony and balance to the track. Also the cello and the additional guitar notes heard throughout are courtesy of my nieces Chaya and Lyla respectively and I’m so proud of them. This track manages to be both relaxed and complex, have energy and yet be deep and slow. It’s like the surface of a bond, just after the water is disturbed. It is amazing atmospheric and ambient music that is just a treat.

‘Watching It All Burn’ flows seamlessly from the previous track with a more conventional musical number, a blend of percussion, bass and guitar that blend together well. Speaking of which the bass in this track was contributed by Neil Sweetland. This had a nice, catchy melody which started off slow, or at least slower, and built throughout. The frenzied section with the heavy percussion and strings was a particular highlight as it was just phenomenal. I tend not to review just instrumentals but honestly James has a depth of talent that shines through, the composition, the style it all just shines in this track.

‘Desuetude’ changes things up again, we have an atmospheric chime-like tone, reminiscent of the sort of sound you’d hear in a dreamscape, you sort of get lost in it, with the rapid but subtle percussive tone kept throughout, it’s like you’re having an out of body experience and hearing your own frantic heartbeat as you drift through the aforementioned dreamscape. On the face of it, it’s a relatively simple melody but it has an intensity to it that can be quite engaging. I particularly liked the subdued nature sounds throughout which harken back to the first track on this EP, and the guitar occasionally mixed in which is reminiscent of the second track. It is a powerful piece of music that dances on the edge of being a little jarring but manages to capture the hold of its listeners.

‘Holding Your Breath Beneath The Waves’ again the way it transitions is seamless, suddenly you pick up on the repeating tones which signify the beginning of this track, they are guitar driven, but have a repeating, distorted edge that reminds me of deep sea radar. This track has a lot of long, sustained notes and melody, like a sound endlessly reverberating and echoing in the depth of the ocean. It’s really interesting and it is a strong finale to what has been a truly interesting musical experience. I especially like how well James incorporated the bass (courtesy of Neil Sweetland) and the percussive elements (Frazer Boyle) which change up the track, adding additional depth and diversity to the song without intruding too much into what I feel is a sort of core simplicity running through each track. That being said, always a fan of a good drum sequence, I found that the drum sections were awesome, giving more power to an already intense track.

So that’s what I thought of James McLaughlin’s EP ‘Desuetude’ and if you want to check it out for yourself then head on over to YouTube. While you’re at it, make sure and support the artist by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/


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