Simon Scott Navigare

[Miasmah; 2009]

Styles: drone, shoegaze, ambient, electronic
Others: Stars of the Lid, Rafael Anton Irisarri

Simon Scott may be best known as the drummer in Slowdive, but living in the shadow of his former band doesn’t make his own music any less satisfying. If anything, Slowdive fans may be more open to Navigare than, say, Neil Halstead’s recent solo work or any of the post-Ask Me Tomorrow Mojave 3 albums. Even those listeners familiar with the complete works of drone stalwarts Stars of the Lid (with which Navigare seems most in tune) would be hard-pressed to deny that Simon Scott has crafted a beautifully consistent and rich batch of tunes.

Although Scott has been in many other groups — The Charlottes, Televise, Inner Sleeve — this is his first album under his own name. He’s also contributed to the live version of The Sight Below, a project of Miasmah labelmate Rafael Anton Irisarri, and this record sounds not unlike parts of The Sight Below’s 2008 album Glider, minus the throbbing Wolfgang Voigt-indebted beats. Navigare is certainly informed by shoegaze to some extent, but the pregnant swoon that ensconces most of the album would be more accurately described as drone or even ambient. The songs play out like a series of variations on something like the end of Slowdive’s “Catch the Breeze,” where it explodes into a sparkling maelstrom of melodic cacophony, or the bowed guitar work of Sigur Rós’ “Svefn-g-englar.” There are a few non-lyrical vocal parts scattered across the album, but they’re buried underneath an ocean of guitar and strings to the point where they’re nearly negated.

If one thing is being made abundantly clear, it’s that Simon Scott is carving a space for himself amongst the gauzy, texture-oriented music of a certain group of modern electronic musicians. It would be wrong to compare him aesthetically to Fennesz or Tim Hecker, but not a stretch to say that their listeners might also find pleasure in Scott’s work. Hell, Hecker himself admitted to being a Slowdive fan.

Links: Simon Scott - Miasmah

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