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A Thread Unravels: Drew McDowall's "A Thread, Silvered, and Trembling" – 2024 | ALBUM REVIEW

Words and photo by Andrea Coloma

Label: Dais Records

Drew McDowall, a name linked with industrial and experimental music (Coil, Psychic TV), takes an incredible turn on his latest release, "A Thread, Silvered, and Trembling." On this new album, McDowall weaves a more introspective tapestry that radiates with the beauty and curiosity of the title itself.

Gone are the grinding textures and pulsating rhythms that often defined his previous work. Instead, "A Thread" unfolds like a slowly blossoming flower, each of the four ample pieces a petal exposing a new layer of sonic exploration. The album's foundation rests on a bed of lush acoustic strings – cello, viola, violin, harp, and French horn – arranged to create an ethereal and unsettling atmosphere. These organic elements are interwoven with McDowall's signature electronics, not as abrasive bursts but as subtle drones and crackles that add depth and texture—creating softness between the transition of each instrument.

The opening track, "Out of Strength Comes Sweetness," sets an enigmatic tone. Chiming sounds dance beneath coatings of melancholic chords, punctuated by unsettling dark electronic creaks. This initial disquiet gives way to a sense of cautious exploration, drawing the listener into McDowall's meticulously crafted world. It is cinematic.

The second track, "And Lions Will Sing With Joy," touches on McDowall's industrial history. The electronic elements become slightly more prominent, but they never overcome the haunting beauty of the strings. Here, we hear echoes of his earlier work, subtly recontextualized within the new sonic framework. Following the second track, Drew presents "In Wound and Water." This track transitions to an uplifting atmosphere with sounds that echos folk and nostalgic components. It creates a peaceful scenery.

The album's title, inspired by the riddle of Samson and the Bees, weaves its cryptic message throughout. The music spreads a sense of the unattainable, a brush with the enigma. Ethereal voices occasionally emerge, adding to the album's enigmatic quality. But "A Thread" is not simply a mystery exercise. There's a quiet sense of grace and introspection that permeates the work. The glacial pace of the tracks allows the listener to immerse themselves in the world McDowall has constructed. The interplay between the icy strings and the warm drones, particularly on the closing track, "A Dream Of A Cartographic Membrane Dissolves," generates a beautiful emotional tension.

"A Thread, Silvered, and Trembling" proves McDowall's ability to challenge expectations and create music that resonates long after the final note fades away. This departure in his sound reveals new depths to his artistry, inviting the audience on a meditative journey through a landscape of sound that is both beautiful and unsettling.

I was fortunate to attend the album release show at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC on May 31st. Sydney Spann opened the show; her performance was captivating and mesmerizing. Baby monitors, which served as additional microphones, were part of her instruments. Her performance was unique, so I was intrigued to learn about her music. Afterward, I got a copy of her album "Sending Up A Spiral Of."

Drew McDowall live at LPR, NYC May 31st, 2024 photo by Andrea Coloma

Drew McDowall was up next. The crowd was attentive and immersed as Drew assembled a meditative atmosphere. The striking red stage lights poured over him, and gloaming darkness eased around him, contributing to the exquisite live performance. I met him after the show and chatted with him for a bit. I truly feel honored to have met an important figure in the industrial movement who collaborated with one of my favorite groups, Coil. I felt more connected with the music I constantly indulged in. "A Thread, Silvered, and Trembling'" is an excellent album that the appropriate ears must experience.

You can purchase a copy here or visit his Bandcamp

Instagram: Drew McDowall

Facebook: Drew McDowall


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