Matthew Swann is no stranger to the barren and haunting landscapes of tape hisses, drone groans and dissonant warbles, but where his previous project, extra happy ghost !!!, was predominantly knee-jerk exuberance and stark immediacy, his newest foray into dense, sludgy psychedelia is much more deliberate and meticulous. This 7” is a soft and down-filled siren song, dragging sick sailors onto a frozen lake. In anticipation of his upcoming full-length, Swann debuted this 45 featuring two sinister and macabre tracks filled with the jarring, jangly death-pop for which he’s renowned.

Slinking guitars and off-kilter rim shots usher in the A-side, “You Carry a Sickness,” with soaring vocal harmonies flying overheard as Swann croons “terrible desire” and you start to swoon in time with the spectral sentimentality.

“Nature doesn’t notice you exist at all,” he states, following with a conciliatory “I do,” before the track dissolves. What’s immediately obvious is that while Swann is heading down singer/songwriter territory, he’s ingenious enough to place the atmosphere and sonic miasma ahead of the melody. The result is a deftly composed, razor-sharp hook wrapped in ectoplasmic ecstasy — a ghastly beautiful exhumation of cryptic poetics and dirge-laden, yet comforting singsong.

By Nick Laugher

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