On one hand, having a Complete Recording Solution at your fingertips is wonderful, freeing artists from the shackles of a physical studio; and on the other, it has produced a slew of anonymous musical dirge from anonymous, lazy knob-twiddlers.
The true beauty in music made this way is, in fact, tied up in both of these extremes. The anonymity is a result of recording music in your own space – your own bedroom, garage, spare room – and so the music becomes pure, diluted escapism.
Thus, Shells‘ music is what made its creator, Khalid Rafique, happy at the time. This in turn makes me happy, because a song like Pastels is so deft in its depiction of the beautiful environs it creates that time drags and stumbles as the song plays.
Pastels is so soft, calm and crushingly gentle that it ought to be available on prescription for people with anger management issues. It’s cunningly composed, with attention and guile – tiny loops of lovely sounds creep in and scuttle away before you’ve fully admired them.
It’s a cliché to say that music which has a bit of echo and reverb is ‘dreamlike’ – and incorrect too, as the last dream I can remember was entirely echo-free and involved David Hasselhoff howling at the moon, and he is conspicuous by his (allegedly) lupine absence in Shells’ music.
But dreams are present in Shells’ songs – the kind of dreams that only lovely music can lend shape, colour and form too. And when we listen to those songs, we can form our own. Trippy, man.