Bedroom Community

Sam Slater - i do not wish to be known as a Vandal

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 SHIPS JUNE 10th 2022

When it came to the recording of ‘I Do Not Wish To Be Known As A Vandal’, Slater called on a number of creative forces. Recorded remotely, each musician would send a sound, some words, some creative parameters, and Slater would respond in turn. Hildur Guðnadóttir provided distinct Doro phone sounds, Yair Glotman played thunderous double-bass, and Hilary Jeffrey and Sam Dunscombe laid down woodwind and microtonal brass. In addition, Icelandic singer-songwriter JFDR delivered her intimate vocals and James Ginzburg (Emptyset) mixed it, with an ear for precise form. From his base in Berlin, Slater would flag the sounds he loved; some twitching strings, the stolen alto voice from an abandoned English chorale, some words from a climate scientist fleshed into a poem. It became an exercise in receptivity, in which openness itself became a creative voice, hushing Slater’s tendency to micromanage every detail. These interactions were pulled together into a single piece written for two sides of a single 12” vinyl; one side describing collapse (‘Darn!’) and the other, recovery (‘Kintsugi’). Influenced by the 70s concept prog records of his childhood, the album loops without ending, so you are never really allowed to rest in safety.

“Structurally the piece traces a recurrent mental image of mine in which a body is falling through space so slowly that I'm unsure if it is moving at all, while simultaneously and continually I’m anticipating the looming threat of bodily pain. Thankfully, also embedded in this movement is the anticipation of the inevitability of recovery. This ambiguous space between glacial-pace self-destruction and the potential of a return to one's feet become two aspects of the same dynamic, and indeed, I feel that we are often suspended perilously close to both. Within these cycles of collapse and recovery, be they personal, systemic, global or political, my sense of powerlessness is offset by the hope that at least my own actions could be rooted in kindness – I do not wish to be known as a vandal.”

The album showcases the breadth of Slater’s range as composer and producer, transitioning through distinctly different spaces, from the glitchy, clipped intro, into Icelandic folktronica, into swathes of menacing string mutations and eerie, mournful woodwind. These vivid, four dimensional scenes conjure a bleak beauty and sense of purgatory akin to Clark’s ‘Playground In A Lake’, with JFDR‘s voice providing a more familiar sense of reassurance – something human to cling to amidst murky abstracts depths, where effects twist instruments into barely recognisable shapes.