Dawn Chorus #4: Domiciles – This Is Not A Zen Garden

Dawn Chorus #4: Domiciles – This Is Not A Zen Garden

Another release from the wonderful Last Night From Glasgow is cheering up a rushed Thursday morning as the debut from Domiciles, This Is Not A Zen Garden, falls on us as heavy as this autumn rain. 

Domiciles This Is Not A Zen Garden coverArtist: Domiciles
Album: This Is Not A Zen Garden
Label: Last Night From Glasgow
Year of release: 2019
Genre: Post-rock

From the mercilessly brutal drone rock to the devastatingly ephemeral soft vocals misting around the bright points of space-synths and the chug of garage riffs, there will come a moment on listening to this album at which you realise you are not so much separate from the music, but a part of it.

Blood now beats in rhythm, cells hum in harmony, and it feels as if it is a record you have always known no matter whether it’s a first listen or not.

That’s a pretty impressive state for any band to conjure in a listener, but on a debut it can be considered nothing short of astonishing.

But what, what is it about this album? It is, quite honestly and in every sense, everything. Opening with ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ there is scant few moments of peaceful chiming before the end-of-the-world post-rock statement kicks in. With added Knightrider-esque oscillation, and vocals sunk deep into the melody, the rhythm clipped and circling this is the buzz of paranoia handcuffed to some solid pragmatism. Fear and hope joined, and from this point forth you know you’re in safe hands with this band, whatever the ride ensues.

Domiciles give us Krautrock beats under shoegaze melodies (‘Bluer Than Blue’), nineties influenced garage rock reminiscent of Julia Hatfield (‘Want/Need’) and moments of tonal soundscapes full of field recordings and found sounds through which we have no choice but to pass, no incentive not to linger (‘Hyacinth’). While there is a coherent thread throughout the album the band has managed to weave in enough detail to make each track more than capable of standing strong alone.

Closer ‘The Drug Is Not Enough’ showcases how adept this band are at mixing influences into something distinctly there own. Churning past the seven minute marker the immersive gives way to the uncomfortable as discordant Radio 4 pips chatter with dial-up modem screech and crunch. It makes everything of the album’s title be fully felt, a record on which everything blooms but there is little peace to be found: This Is Not A Zen Garden.

An understated release from which you will find no escape, nor the motivation to leave behind; to listen is to become. You’ll feel familiar with little refrains, you’ll want to dig beneath a surface listen, you’ll want to sit alone and be encompassed as it throbs directly into your mind and you’ll long to hear it live and loud enough to crumble your insides. A contender for debut of the year and certainly a future favourite to be pulled from the crates, the cover cradled close as the music deconstructs you and puts you back together again.

Dawn Chorus is a week day feature sharing an album to listen to on your morning commute, the school run, or at other times with the intention of surfacing classics you might not have given time to yet, indulging in old favourites, and helping you discover the best of new releases. If you’d like to suggest an album for the feature, or contribute a guest write up on an album you think more people should hear, get in touch

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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