There is an age-old saying that less is more, and this can certainly apply to certain strains of music. When it comes to the umbrella of shoegaze music, the fuzzy sounds of guitars can sometimes be overwhelming and the musician producing it is just showing off with what they can do with their one million different types of distortion pedal. But if you strip it back and introduce a very basic melody and then add layers of guitar over the top it can create something that is quite soothing and beautiful. Treading this line can be a delicate balancing act, but it is something that Vacant Gardens seem to do with such ease on their debut record Under The Bloom.
The band is the creative output of Glenn Donaldson and Jem Fanvu and the pair have made a spacey soundscape that creates a calming vibe that washes over you. Donaldson’s whirring guitar tones combined with Fanvu’s delicate voice creates this really beautiful piece of art that has a lingering effect. Right from the opening track ‘Waves on Waves’ the beauty of Fanvu’s vocal is there for all to hear, and even when she hits the higher notes it isn’t jarring, it fits perfectly with whatever Donaldson is doing instrumentally. Even though the formula that Vacant Gardens seem to have come up with may seem a little bit repetitive the group do just enough to change up the rhythm of what they are doing and keep the listener engaged. And although the pace of the record never really gets out of second gear, there is nothing wrong with tha here. Songs like ‘Sunlight on Dry Grass’ and ‘Night Bloom’ carry so much feeling and emotion to them you can’t help but be entranced by what this pair have created.
Vacant Gardens have made an immersive record that creates an atmosphere in which the listener can fully submerge themselves in. Put this record on and forget about all the shit that is going on in the world and enjoy the beauty Vacant Gardens have created.
Under The Bloom is out now and can be purchased here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck