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I’m not sure if there is a deliberate connection with the Patrick Hamilton book that shares a name with the band, of which I’m a big fan, but this delicate and drifting piece is the perfect soundtrack for the sad, tragic people, the broken romanticism and the darkly comedic events that pervade his literary world. Like those books, there is also something very English about the subtle sounds and sentiments that flow through “Softest of Silks”.
But, as the Bristol-based folktronic duo explain, the song has its roots in more real world and personal tragedy surrounding the loss of a friend. But even without knowing that, the music seems to be built as much out of memory, nostalgia and pathos as it is out of actual music – the ambient swells and delicate strings, sonic washes that ebb and flow and the funereal sound of that drum tattoo, that drives the song along.
It is a gorgeous piece of music, one that floats towards the listener rather than is driven by the instruments. There is something quite remarkable in how Hangover Square can, through the clever layering of tones and textures, at times sound like a whole orchestra. Ironically, that is also partly due to the use of space. Space that allows the music to drift and breathe but so to conjures other sounds to percolate between the notes and words, more than the sum of their parts, adding atmosphere, ethereality and anticipation.
As I said, it is a genuinely gorgeous sound (I know that I overuse that word, but sometimes none other will do, and this is one of those times) and a band that is definitely on my ones-to-watch list—especially given that they are based in a city just an hour down the road from me. Road trip, anyone?
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