Imagine a bunch of 80s synth ballads have splintered apart. The filler is shed, leaving just shards of pure glistening sentiment. That “bit” in the song that gets you every time. Imagine holding a kaleidoscope full of these fragments to the light as they settle into strange new shapes. The music of Angel Eyes (Andrew Cowie) has no hooks, choruses or earworms. The kaleidoscope revolves, revealing configurations that are beautiful but too fleeting to grasp.
Pastiche of the 80s is overplayed, as is music trading in nostalgia and homage. You must be very good to cut through, and Cowie is a master. He knows when to let a single sound or beat ride out alone and precisely when to seed in the next. Bent, stretched and warped sounds bleed into each other, as melancholic as William Baskinski’s decayed tape loops. I’m reminded of Bjork, too, saying that making Vespertine’s “microbeats … was like doing a huge embroidery piece”. The Never Album has a similar intricacy but no hard edges. It’s possible the whole thing’s been dipped in afternoon sun.