We’ve been lucky enough score a first listen to the staggeringly beautiful debut tape by Allison’s Gate. Coming out via Brighton’s Memorials of Distinction, Sink or Swim is a collection of tracks written and performed by Carolina McPhail between 2011-2016, mired in various lo-fi treatments and massive swathes of ethereal reverb.
Originally from the Channel Islands, McPhail’s music “often aims to fashion something from the accidental”, eschewing neat presentation for a muddy enveloping sense of homespun dreamscape built around McPhail’s fragile voice and guitar. Thematically, the songs explore girlhood and “the weight of romantic endeavors”, the album’s title in fact coming from Su Friedrich’s short film of the same name about the experience of queer girlhood and womanhood.
The music has already gained a handful of comparisons to Liz Harris’ Grouper, which although not entirely unfounded, only cover a handful of Allison’s Gate’s sonic toolbox. While muddy tracks of lush vocal and guitar fumblings such as the title track do conjur memories of Grouper, wonkier offerings like angular mini ritual ‘k(no)w’ come from a different more Sebadoh-ian place entirely. Fourth track ‘Jewellery Box – 25:08:16 19.58’ in fact features nothing more than a forlorn music box theme chiming away slower and slower – until it ceases to turn. There’s even a hissy cover of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s classic Give It Back! hymn to loneliness, ‘Devil May Care’.
The album comes out later this month, and the cassette can be pre-ordered via Memorials of Distinction here