Blackest Ever Black climbs into a plushly lined coffin built to its own exacting specifications, and gently lowers the lid. Yes, A Short Illness From Which He Never Recovered is a valedictory comp from the label, or so we understand. However, it wasn’t actually conceived as the final release, and so the elegiac feel of the music contained within must be at least partly coincidental?!
Only a couple of BEB stalwarts contribute tracks; it's a standalone, self-contained thing. As deaths go, it's more slip-away-peacefully-in-the-night than rage-rage-rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light. Bridget Hayden's funereal, reverb-smothered folk ballad, ‘Solace’, is the closest this record gets to an outright howl of pain. The prevailing gentleness of the mission is perhaps most obviously signalled by the appearance of Bobby Wratten, once of Sarah Records’ soft-lad-superheroes The Field Mice, in his gossamer-shoegaze guise, Lightning In A Twilight Hour, or in Unchained's Maurice Deebank-ish, stained-glass guitar instrumental ‘Gray d’aboukir’.
Carla dal Forno’s faithful but quietly revelatory cover of The Kiwi Animal’s ‘Blue Morning’, first heard on a tour tape of hers a year or so ago, provides the album’s most lucid pop moment; its clarity and concision matched only by the Spillage Fete-affiliated Jam Money's supremely atmospheric miniature 'Dawn Swoop'. There are appearances too from Low German punk turned DIY scrabbler Hypnotic Sleep and related duo The Fulmars, Scythe (whose Dun Werk tape is one of our fave releases of this year), veteran SEER/IFM dream machinist Ian Martin and Brainman (Jonas Tiljander of Brainbombs and Bremen).
A strange and emotionally ambiguous sorta epitaph...but a fitting one.