Mr. Projectile: Sinking

Hailing from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sinking is Matthew Arnold 's (aka Mr. Projectile) third full-length. While the album graphics and minimal text content offer few hints as to what Sinking sounds like, it takes only the first few seconds of the reverberant “You Need” for the disc's overall style to declare itself. It's an ambient overture of cinematic proportions, its opening of stately shimmer delectably fleshed out by Amy Turany's angelic vocal enhancements. It segues smoothly into the atmospheric “Underneath The Evening,” all rolling waves of shimmering synths and sprinkling pianos with a soft underpinning of crackle seeping in at its edges. Other tracks (like “I Am Back” with its billowing clusters and the gentle “Acting Right”) exude a similar chill-out feel, but not all are so restrained. Arnold works up some solid funk on “‘Slow Rewards” and “Sinking,” and pairs bell-like percussion patterns with a tasty groove of laconic breakbeats and deep bass lines on the standout “Resistance Is Fertile.” Typically, tracks are heavily layered with crackle, vocal waves, and electronic shimmer; in fact, “Love Here” is so densely textured it suggests shoegazing. There are occasional instances where Arnold's sensibilities sound perfectly in sync with the work of his colleagues. “The Inevitable Haunting,” for example, is a reverie of thrumming patterns that wouldn't sound out of place on a Stephan Mathieu recording. In general, Sinking's a solid and thoroughly accessible recording, but that shouldn't be interpreted to mean that it's excessively sweet or bland. If anything, it's rather retrograde in its embrace of an atmospheric ambient style that might seem somewhat quaint by today's standards but in fact makes it all the more inviting and boosts its charm.

April 2004