Silent Forum : Everything Solved at Once6.12.19 : Libertino Records
Released over the last twelve momentous months, Libertino Records' first clutch of albums confirm that the label will be as important in reshaping Wales' cultural identity as Factory was in redefining 1980s Manchester.
The skittering, kaleidoscopic post-punk of Silent Forum's debut LP further extends a magnificent run of form.
As if to reinforce the Mancunian comparison, more than any other act on Libertino's roster, Silent Forum share the urban tension, melodrama and gravity of Factory's early signature signings; but their brand of compressed psycho-geography is painted in vivid colour, and with a profound understanding of everything that has passed musically since Digital opened a 1978 sampler EP.
Rhythms shift and turn. Instruments drift in and out of the mix. Producer Charlie Francis has worked subtle, layered magic in keeping the singular kinetic energy of Silent Forum intact whilst achieving the reach of their complex sonic ambitions.
Although the result is cohesive, there's still an unexpected range to the band's work. Spanish folk ghosts through Credit to Mark Sinker, contrasting with Great Success' nod to the tidal wash of soundscape The Cure perfected in gentler times; jazz, pop and noise-rock nudge in elsewhere.
In the previous single How I Faked The Moon Landing, singer Richard Wiggins laments, "Music's not business, we're destined to be a local band not on the local radio".
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Everything Solved at Once passes any road test you throw at it. As a headphone-soundtrack there's enough splendour in these songs to render a cold Tuesday morning trip to Wilko cinematic.
A magisterial presence, Wiggins is a solemn flâneur as he sings about the claustrophobic constraint of office work (in Robot, "I feel a shortage of high pressure in my life / I need the office chair / I need spreadsheets I hold dear / I love coffee, I hate beer"), relationships and the inner life of his band. Yet, even in the bleaker moments, his talent for self deprecation and arch humour lace the melancholy.
Out of the ten impassioned tracks on Everything Solved at Once, the finest is Pop Act, an immersive, self-referential cri de cœur. Dark and twisting, its lyrical drive is clear in the sarcasm of the opening line, "We went to the Swedish furniture company for our flat-pack songs".
It is an apt highlight, as Silent Forum have been criticised for the intensity with which they work. In a fast-moving, social media turbo charged but superficial culture taking what you do seriously is an act of deliberate revolution.
Built to last, this is an album for the serial aural monogamist to own in a physical format, not for a quick streaming flirt. Melodic, experimental, meaning crammed into every sung word, Silent Forum are the real post-punk deal. Their debut's intelligent, majestic music arcs with the enchantment and mystery of a shooting star over a coal-dark landscape.
Wherever it is rooted, Everything Solved at Once is as good as anyone involved could have dreamed it to be; a stunning, sublime creative expression.
This is just the start of something very special.
SILENT FORUM I How I Faked the Moon Landing