ArkNo Pain In Pop ****
Sad songs say so much, as Sam Howard appears to know all too well. The young south London producer’s debut is awash with wistful melancholy, sombre contemplation and sad-eyed electronic blues and noir. Howard sits in the midst of a Venn diagram between post-dubstep and new classical, but there are other interesting angles to consider beyond his debt to Burial, The xx and Max Richter. Between his falsetto vocal tones, the heavy religious titles of the songs (such as Winter Prayer and album highlight Holy Communion) and the beautifully detailed wash of sound that sweeps each track along, Howard has created an album full of eerie, atmospheric textures and tones. Roses for the Dead and Reverie are fine examples of Howard’s ambient style, a producer aiming to imbue the space between the notes with his own ghostly style.
Download: Holy Communion, Roses for the Dead