– featured image courtesy of sarah ascanio –
welcome back to the dimestore. it’s been a minute. though this site is indeed back up and running, it will be doing so in a decidedly more limited capacity. thank you to all who have returned for this reboot, wherever it may lead; for those who are newcomers, please feel free to peer into our archives should you decide to stick around.
“album of the fortnight” is a bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note. the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span. this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction. next up: dreamspook
Gabriel jorgensen’s soothing, measured vocals are often at odds with a spectrum of mood spanning from ennui to empathy, from intense introspection to intermittent self-deprecation. on king in the folly keep, the minneapolis-based songwriter’s debut full-length under his dreamspook moniker, these myriad moods are just beyond the foreground of each composition, and are more than just isolated, plotted points on a linear graph; they work hand in glove to craft an overarching narrative with comparable depth to the arrangements formed around it.
containing nine songs that collectively clock in at just over a half-hour, king in the folly keep feels decidedly compact, and refreshingly so. lyrics that so explicitly read like a manual to the songwriter’s innermost mechanics have a tendency to skew theatrical, even comically overwrought, but jorgensen seems keenly aware of this trope. most songs pair brief streams of consciousness with a mantra-esque hook, eschewing more formulaic lyrical structures and bombast while introducing an idea and succinctly following it to some sort of conclusion.
take “island castle,” the album’s seasick, pulsating opening number, as a case study of this approach. jorgensen details the construction of an impenetrable fortress of secrecy in a quick succession of verses before honing in on a thesis: “no man’s an island, but no man’s what i am.” an old adage is obliterated by the simple refutation that follows, a destruction compounded by repetition as the music underneath crescendos towards its finale. even tracks like “badlands,” which pulls comparatively towards the abstract in terms of imagery, have momentary returns to reality that are completely grounding; “you’re just a fool who thinks too much” is sure to lurk in the subterranean depths of a universal subconscious.
while most of king in the folly keep adheres to a compact structure, on occasion, jorgensen permits dreamspook to flesh out, to deviate from three-minute explorations of self. “don’t die” doubles in length and halves its lyrical content, swimming in synth motifs and guitar arpeggios that abruptly dissipate, leaving jorgensen alone to deliver a sparse vocal enveloped by a murky bass swell. despite its eventual morbidity, the first half of “don’t die” feels somewhat refreshing, soothing; this one-time allowance for meandering provides previous concepts the space to breathe, a respite before reaching the album’s most vulnerable state.
in spite of a coalescing bleakness enhanced by beautifully tragic imagery, king in the folly keep manages to become a self-aware body of work by its penultimate track, breaking whatever fourth-wall equivalent may exist in the album format. lest his listeners become too put out from the weight of his lyrics, jorgensen squares this tendency towards the morose with “ignorance,” a confessional dotted with concessions and pledges. impermanence can be heavy, but it can easily be interrupted by moments of beauty and eclipsed by feelings of insignificance.
it should also be noted that king in the folly keep is a thirty-three minute groove machine. amidst imploring an unnamed party for unrequited love and offering a brief analysis of an unfamiliar romance, jorgensen and the rest of his cohort – george hadfield on bass and conor davison on drums – lock into a near-impenetrable state of metronomic precision. each piece of every arrangement feels sculpted – if that verb can, for a moment, represent the utmost amount of attention painstakingly paid to every sonic detail: guitar leads alternately chime and warble; synth melodies bubble and percolate, and occasionally spill over into an agitated frenzy; bass lines routinely sound capable of swallowing subwoofers.
with every aforementioned cog, along with the contours of jorgensen’s vocal melodies, already heavily informed by rhythmic interplay, the drum parts are an analog to the icing on the album cover’s cake. deft and tasteful, while confidently staking claim in unused subdivisions, davison’s percussion work makes its presence – and absence – arguably felt more so than heard.
while basking in the seconds of silence that linger after the final drops of water hit on “ogema,” one may feel like one has stumbled across and read parts of a diary mistakenly donated to a second-hand book store; king in the folly keep is an intensely personal – and, consequently, vulnerable – piece of work, somehow delivered with the utmost conceptual and aural clarity. wade in.