Night Is Invisible


our Breath In Mine” opens Night Is Invisible's first album with nothing more than a shuffling beat, some windswept tones and the “be quiet, big boys don't cry” sample from 10cc's immortal “I'm Not In Love.” The rest of the songs here, by and large, follow the same template minus the vocal sample. Night Is Invisible's sound design is almost as minimal as their album art (which made me think I had received a promo at first), all blank grey areas offset with occasional dark, rich bursts of imagery. The music here has been stripped down to a bare, blunt purposiveness, that much is clear, although it's hard to decide what that purpose might be.

The standard descriptors for this sort of nocturnally cinematic form trip through your mind as you hear 1, as “Moonless” detours into busy, vaguely jazzy textures, as “Burgundy”'s wordless vocals and and spooky piano briefly call to mind both Susumu Yokota and the soundtrack to the Silent Hill games, as “Dulles Corridor” and “Incandescent” slide by, pleasantly shapeless, and especially as “Rosslyn” creeps down the hall in slow motion. All of the tracks are affably consonant, if hard to fasten on to. The listener wants to like 1, and while it plays this music sounds great, all sleek propulsion and rich tonality, suggesting a range of emotions broader than the initial sonic unity of the album would suggest. But this is ambient music to the nth degree; not only is it as suited to headphone inspection as it is to workplace wallpaper, it vanishes from the mind like dew or dreams once “The Birds” shivers to a halt.

And that impermanence, that mystery that clings to Night Is Invisible, is ultimately its most alluring quality. Although the details fade, the listener comes away from 1 with the feeling of time well spent, the sort of goodwill that soon engenders the desire to hear it again, and that same nebulousness means that as familiar as the album becomes, there is still a sense of freshness. As Telegraph art critic Rupert Christiansen puts it:
The point about the return visit is not the infantile pleasure of repetition, but the possibility of surprise. A good work of art never stays quite the same: it ambushes you, outwits you.
Night Is Invisible springs its traps well, the teasing drumstick taps of “Vermillion,” the shape-shifting fuzz of “Mezza,” the way “Your Breath In Mine” mutely articulates “I'm Not In Love,” the sepia haunted-Titanic feel of “Burgundy” and many more, and each time some new facet seizes the ear, some element only half-heard previously saunters into view. This is a shimmering, beguiling kind of music, flitting in and out of view as it slowly gives up its secrets. It is music for sitting in vehicles and watching landscapes, for failing to sleep, for filling the contours of empty rooms, for passing time and for stealing hearts. Its plasticity may give it a kind of half-life, may resign it to disposability, but if so it's the glorious kind, music as fire-and-forget missile, endlessly streaking through the impalpable, no longer silent night.

Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2005-09-28
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