The ability to manipulate opacity in visual art had always fascinated me. It can be used to create a fog that intimates form through layering. It can result, when applied correctly, in a sharp obscurity – a nebulous concreteness. It becomes a metaphor. Your brain works harder to order it, to give it meaning, than it would with more straight-forward renderings. Therein lies its beauty. It brings us closer to the idea by moving us further from structure. Douglas Dare has managed to appropriate this visual technique in the composition of “Nile,” a track off of his forthcoming album Whelm.
In “Nile” transparent layers overlap to intimate some form that moves at a slow and slightly “off” pace (a result of the varying time signatures). Dare’ voice is the only clear element of the piece and serves as an anchor. The obscured instrumentation emphasizes the low-ends of each respective instrument. Saturated with a subtle distortion each instrument warbles in intervals as the waves intermingle, simultaneously sharpening and moving the image out of focus. That image, in my mind, is that of a river in grayscale. Phantoms in the form of groaning strings swoop in and fish out of this obscure river forms that are both foreign and familiar. We gently bob, moving with the current, until at the end of the track we are in the water. We feel its weight gently moving our limbs as we drift, watching air bubbles catch the light from above on their jittery, beautiful ascent.