Music for scary documentaries
Dan Berridge’s third album proper is perhaps his most accomplished but also his least appealing. Whereas his debut ‘Compassion’ raised the bar for sample-based music with its haunted torch songs crafted from forgotten (and not-so-forgotten) vinyl, follow-up ‘The Vessel’ took a largely-unsuccessful gamble with a male vocal lead. The return to the instrumental template was signified by last year’s vinyl-only nugget ‘Autumn Breaks EP’, but rarely does ‘In Finite’ break the mood or the mould set by its predecessors. Berridge specialises in a doom-laden gloom: haunted piano chords, jazz breaks, found splices of guitar and trumpet, ancient choirs, spoken word etc. But the mood is unbending and becomes trying as the means of expression become more limited. The production is certainly cleaner and leaner, but the instrumentation (or is it the ideas?) sparser, more minimalist. Too often you feel that Berridge is overly reliant on post-Shadow breaks and find yourself wishing that they won’t crash in and consume every track. It is hard to pick amongst the tracks on offer, but ‘Raga’ stands out for its angular, rollicking guitar licks, and ‘Ancient Voices’ takes in a distinctive smatter of mandolin for an Eastern flavour. ‘Screwtape’s Mistake’ also takes an unprecedented swipe at skittering drum ‘n’ bass rythmns, but the mood is unchanged. Several tracks host guest cameos from established jazz musicians, but all follow the mood as prescribed and none carry over any individualistic characteristics. In all, a lot of it fades to background and sounds incidental, like a soundtrack to a scary documentary about climate change or terrorism.