by Ewan Blacklaw (@EwanBlacklaw)
Released in early December 2017, No Conscious Apparitions is the latest project from underground lo-fi indie rock outfit Golem Who Goes Fish, formerly known as Sontuk. This time Phil Castro, the mind behind Golem Who Goes Fish, creates a dreamy lo-fi sound layered beneath vocals reminiscent of Elvis Costello. Although this nasally voice makes the album stand out from other lo-fi projects, it may also put listeners off some of the catchy indie tracks on this album.
The lo-fi production sound of the album is achieved by using a 4-track, which is a popular method of recording in the lo-fi music scene. The reason that this technique is favoured is due to the ability to mix each individual component of the song together in a very natural way. No Conscious Apparitions is a prime example of this, with a majority of songs featuring a catchy combination of drums, synth, guitar and keys backing the signature vocals. This amalgamation makes for some very catchy songs such as one of the standout moments on the project, Alice Hieroglyphics Alice, which sounds as though it is could be a hidden gem from the peak of 70s rock.
Although the album does get off to a great start with memorable opening tracks, there is a lull during the midway section of the album. This could be due to the short tracks featuring nasally vocals and similar sounding instrumentals merging into one uniform sound. This lull is, however, broken with Simple Sugars (Do The Trick) which brings a new dynamic to the album, introducing a synth sound that sounds as if it has been pulled straight from the soundtrack of Hotline Miami or Drive. From this point onwards the album picks up again, mixing in different influences and sounds from various genres. One noticeable example of this is Malic Alice, which is the most intense track on the album, releasing a previously unheard garage rock sound that really stands out from other the other tracks of No Conscious Apparitions. Mixed in amongst the album’s catchy lo-fi indie rock feel are these occasional appearances of subtle instrumentals that serve as a moment of reflection, as well as a break from the whining vocals of Phil Castro.
One other factor of the album are the surrealist lyrics laced throughout the album, which seem to bring in a lot of original ideas. The lyrics seem to be distant and dreamy to match the backing instrumentals, as well as the overall tone of the record. Although the album does hit a bit of a slow patch, it is an overall solid project, standing out from other recent lo-fi releases with the unique lyrics and vocals which bring some new ideas to the indie rock genre. As well as seeming to move in a different way within the genre, No Conscious Apparitions is also a standout amongst previous releases from Golem Who Goes Fish, showing the growth in the personal sound of the project. The newest album ranks as the best of his three releases so far and hopefully he can continue to release good music well into 2018.