Sketches For Albinos:
Days of Being Wild and Kind
Matthew Collings aka Sketches for Albinos hails from Reykjavik, Iceland so one can perhaps be forgiven for expecting traces of Sigur Rós to surface when listening to Days of Being Wild and Kind. But the adventurous debut collection (its thirteen originals accompanied by remixes by Moskitoo, Chihei Hatakeyama, and Federico Durand) is hardly an imitative knockoff, as Collings explores multiple pathways on the album. Previously featured on nothings66's debut release, the Duskscape Not Seen compilation, Collings tackles shoegaze, electronica, and ambient genres on Days of Being Wild and Kind, with meditative instrumental interludes (“Anna Karina,” the banjo-based “Romy Schneider”), vocal ballads, and guitar-based soundscaping (“Lotta”) all part of the mix. A bedroom feel colours the material, with a rough-shod, at times scratchy quality to the beats and reverb and ambient hiss giving the tracks a homemade quality.
The album opens strongly with an epic five minutes of melancholy, reverb-soaked piano balladry (“Sorbonne Midnight”), followed by a melodic folktronic swoon of breathy voice patterns, treated guitar sounds, and found sound percussion (“Daniel Likes Birds”). In “A Meeting at the Merry-Go-Round,” electric guitars and vocals blend into an emotive blur, and hushed vocals buried within a blurry windstorm liken “Red Sky On Fire” to a shoegaze ballad. In “Kids With No Energy,” Collings drapes a plaintive electric guitar melody (that wouldn't sound out of place on Greg Davis's Arbor ) against stumbling broken beats and a mangled hip-hop feel. He also makes room for a pretty piano and glockenspiel setting (“We Live for Spring”) and a piano ballad so waterlogged it could have been recorded underwater (“Jol”). On the remix front, Moskitoo transforms “She's With Snoban Now” into a delicate wonderland of bright sparkle, Hatakeyama obliterates the piano playing of “Sorbonne Midnight” with a windstorm, and Durand re-casts “A Meeting at the Merry-Go-Round” as an even more grandiose setting.
There's clearly lots to dig into on the sixty-five-minute release, and lots to enjoy too. Collings is clearly a man with omnivorous musical appetites, which, on the plus side, makes for a rich and engaging collection, but it also means that, with the album covering so many bases, it risks losing coherence in the process. In short, the moniker name Collings selected could just as easily have been used for the album title itself, as Days of Being Wild and Kind often comes across as experimental sketches the producer's pulled together for an album-length presentation.