I don’t post many album reviews, mostly because I struggle to find the time to put them together. As it is I’ve been sitting with this one since the end of last year, and though I really enjoyed it, I couldn’t quite get into the headspace to truly appreciate and dissect an album called The Winter Switch during the relentless heatwave Cape Town faced last Summer…so I let the months drift by, and the air grow colder…
Autumn doesn’t really exist in Cape Town and the seasons seem to transition quickly and messily from summer to winter during April. Then along comes May and it’s undeniably winter – I always find that sudden change quite amazing…I’m not sure what exactly Tape Hiss and Sparkle‘s titular ‘winter switch’ refers to, but the phrase definitely came to mind during the first cold days of May.
Initially a solo project of Cape Town singer-songwriter (and former Sleepers vocalist) Simon Tablyn, Tape Hiss and Sparkle has consisted of various band members at various times since 2009, with the current live lineup featuring drummer Mandisi Nkomo (Oh, Cruel Fate), bassist Helen Westcott (Coal) and cellist Catherine Schenck. On The Winter Switch, Alessandro Busetto (Oh, Cruel Fate) plays bass and Rosamund Van Der Westhuizen cello.
Musically, The Winter Switch feels fuller and more solid than predecessor Paperhawk, starting with a bang (and my personal favourite of the album), opener Like keys on a kite string is one of the most uptempo songs on the album. Other standout tracks include The siege, Ripples and arithmetic and a stripped down and more orchestral version of lead single Home. The album has a nice balance of fast and slower numbers with the prevailing mood being one of gentle introspection.
Personally I make very strong time and seasonal associations with the music in my life, usually based on when I first listened to the music in question, and though I first heard this album last year, I definitely appreciate it properly listening to it at this time of year. In my mind it is undoubtedly autumnal, both capturing and enhanced by the seasonal chill in the air, darkening skies and light rainfall against the window.
A lovely and gentle album well worth a listen and the perfect soundtrack to a winter’s evening.
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Standout tracks: Like keys on a kite string, The siege, Ripples and arithmetic, Home