(New Album Review) Gareth Dickson- The Invisible String

Gareth Dickson’s newest release The Invisible String, a collection of live recordings, could serve as an excellent introduction to those curious about the Scottish songwriter’s work. Dickson’s trade is to craft relatively simple finger-picking pieces transformed through reverb and delay pedals to create an eerie, wintry echo-chamber– in a sense, this is folk-music for a somewhat specific audience.

It cannot be denied that Dickson’s strongest influence is Nick Drake. But would even Nick Drake craft music that’s as impossibly delicate as this? These are not straightforward folk-songs, they are folk-songs that have been saturated and blurred to the point of becoming little planetariums of arpeggios and Dickson’s almost-whispered vocals. Dickson betrays himself, to interesting affect, as perhaps more of an ambient musician than someone interested in self-expression through lyricism. Because this is music that is more about a feeling that is conjured by a certain sonic atmosphere, Dickson’s lyrics are repetitive. This is not to say that his songs lack depth, but rather that as a lyricist he is somewhat reticent and that he fills in the wordless spaces in his songs with atmosphere. Also, when I say that Dickson creates folk-music for a somewhat specific audience, I mean that he is bridging the barrier between “mood” music and “expression” music, and I have a feeling that because of this, he might be more appreciated and understood by enthusiasts of ambient and electroacoustic music.

Dickson’s finest moment both as a songwriter and crafter of soundscapes might be the dramatic and slightly unsettling “Jonah”. The haunting final refrain, “I will love you forever” (God threatening Jonah with His love? Jonah finally surrendering to God? It is not clear.) will leave your hairs standing on end.

This is a fine sampling of Dickson’s work, and it comes highly recommended to those who have not had a chance to look into him so far.


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