Sometimes music mesmerises the listener. Sometimes it’s a little unsettling. Through the moniker of Public Memory, Robert Toher launches you into a spooky realm of both of these things. Recorded at a time that Toher momentarily lived in Los Angeles, new album Wuthering Drum explores renewal – perhaps being born again, or just simply going through changes.
Beneath the hypnotic melodies there lies something a little more industrial, leading to an experience of intrigue whereby the music introduces a new place for us to explore – our very own ‘Los Angeles’. It’s not necessarily something we’ve never heard before, but it’s definitely served on a different plate.
The soft touch of haunting vocals are accompanied with a variety of beats that at times seem to resemble man-made noises in everyday life. It’s this combination of music as fantasy, with real world tones, that create a listening experience which is initially verging on uneasy, but that ends up being increasingly comforting as you dive right in and let the album take you.
Wuthering Drum is the kind of album that when heard in snippets may not be too convincing, but when played all the way through makes total sense. Though each song has its moment, they are best enjoyed together for a unified sound that is almost theatrical. In a world dominated by charts and single downloads, it’s a breath of fresh air to enjoy an album that isn’t a pick’n’mix of manufactured singles. Instead, Wuthering Drum flows seamlessly to convey a message. The more this album is listened to, the more it speaks to you and that unsettling edge becomes more familiar – it’s still intriguing, but more accessible.
There are moments of drifting into darkness, where the tone lowers with a looming presence that is represented through layers of deep rhythms and mystical vocals. That same mystic hint also reaches lighter notes in other parts of the album, managing to lift spirits even if only subtly. Toher avoids being flashy and it’s the simplicity that makes this album work so damn well, as his no-nonsense approach expresses an uplifting energy in an altogether soothing manner.
Wuthering Drum is released on March 18, 2016.