AFTER so many moons away from us Chris Porpora, aka Cheval Sombre, has delighted us, truly delighted us, with the gorgeous ambient shoegaze folk of Time Waits For No One just a month ago. If you haven’t caught up with that yet, then by crikey you must.
We commented upon its release that: “Well, wow. Time Waits For No One is not without its darknesses, its sadnesses, but they’re approached with the calm, supplicant grace that sits right in the heart of such feelings; and it is bloody beautiful. It isn’t, I don’t think, too much of a stretch to say it that while any song here would brighten a playlist immeasurably, it works as an interlocking whole; listen to it as such, ffs don’t chop it up and randomise it. Buy it, actually.
“Can Time Waits For No One defeat time? No, but it will give you an entirely discrete space outside the depredations and rude entropy that time just loves to enact. It’s an amulet, a perfect prescription; you can use it to ward off the world. Really, do.” (You can read our full review here).
Well, we always knew that a second long-playing missive was due from Chris this year, although I for one wasn’t expecting it so soon; but part the second of Cheval Sombre’s twin albums will actually be with us on May 28th.
Entitled Days Go By, once again it sees the guiding light of Sonic Boom behind the faders and guests including Galaxie 500 and Luna legend Dean Wareham. and is to be seen and heard entirely as a companion piece to the brilliance of February’s first instalment.
Sonic Cathedral say that “Days Go By furthers the theme of the inexorable march of time and, musically, comes across like John Fahey sitting in with Spiritualized circa Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space“, and I will also die on that hill. It’s as if the delicate psych-pastoralism hinted at on Spacemen 3’s “Ecstasy Symphony/Transparent Radiation” has been finally given full expressive flight.
Further deliciousness: please find enclosed the lovely animation accompanying the first single to emerge, as it were, from behind the second album’s curtain: “Well It’s Hard”, made by Lucas Moreira and Cristiana Figueire. The title is actually taken from the lyrics of the previous record’s title track – and this is just one way in which the records are inextricably linked – and there’s other mirrorings.
Both albums have ten tracks, with eight originals, one instrumental and a closing cover version, which this time around is a take on Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts’ “The Calfless Cow”.
“Having the opportunity to release two full-length albums in the same year doesn’t come around too often,” says Chris, “so I wanted to go to every length to make it special – meaningful.
“It was a privilege to realise this meticulous level of symmetry – it truly became another vital dimension in the craft of record-making. Around each turn, there was a chance to be incredibly measured and thoughtful, not least with Craig Carry’s artwork.”
Bu as shown by “Well It’s Hard”, the new album aims for a brighter place, the delicacy of Chris’s breathy voice, that electronica swirl, tremolo grace on the guitar; and when the strings and synths swell and bleed over – can there be a dry eye in the house? It’s just a bit of grit, honestly. A sweet musical arrow straight at your chest.
We’re told that Days Go By is lighter, airier, with more string accentuation. All of which might just tip me over the edge. Chris likens it to Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, but in reverse order.
“How wonderful to discover that on the other side of experience, there is an innocence which has endured,” he explains. “Beyond politics, love affairs, worldly woes, even life and death, it’s true – there is a calm after the storm,” postulates Chris.
“It’s strange, this life – isn’t it? You’ve got all these songs around conceptions of time, it’s over eight years since your last album, you decide to release twin records, and their release dates somehow fall perfectly in line with the unfolding present.
“When folks say that the stars conspire to make things happen, I tend to believe it. Time Waits for No One is a dark record, already reminiscent of the shadowy days of winter, of the trials of the pandemic. If If Days Go By can coincide with the promise of springtime, bringing with it light, lifting spirits – then my work has been done.”
Cheval Sombre’s If Days Go By will be released by Sonic Cathedral on digital download, CD and vinyl on May 28th; there’ll be a yellow vinyl pressing as standard, with a huuugely limited (150 only) clear frosted, blue spatter edition at Bandcamp. Lovers of everything great about music: PayPal at the ready here, if you would form an orderly queue.