The 14th album from this fruitful solo project by in-demand collaborator Mark Spybey (Download, ex-Zoviet-France), From Afar is fixated on space and distance. Spybey utilises them well, setting cryptic layers of sound at seemingly different points ever towards the horizon. He has worked with members of Can, Neu!, and Cluster, so he definitely has serious experimental pedigree, but he also displays a fondness here for overly florid song titles. These compositions, too, lean towards a sort of vast and mutated symphonic swell towards the beginning, but they become steadily more diffuse and more bewitching for it.
Phil Western from Download guests on the dense and gusty opener‚”Something Maybe” as well as on the sparkling “Eyes I Dare not Meet in Dreams”, each cavernous in its own way. Inspired by a line from the late Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic, the title track features illusory vocals by Serbian-American Ivana Salipur, while “This Silence Where the Murmours [sic]Lie” is one of several pieces using a vocal element on a submerged level. The above work is interesting enough, but the album becomes more appealing with the fifth track,
“Till the Dusk.” It begins with a rounded hum and then distorts and gurgles, all while sticking with simplicity rather than indulgent layers. In other words, our minds fill in the gaps instead of Spybey himself.
A menacing storminess consumes the remaining tracks, from the erratic percussion and well-evoked title imagery “Happy Days Snap the Stem”. In the closing “The Air is a Mill of Hosts”, that looming storm gradually retreats. It’s altogether gone when, as a brief coda, a swell and throb teases us at a considerable remove. Again, it’s the palpable feeling of distance that commands our attention, and Spybey’s creations are at their best when leaving room to admire just what he has done.