The new 93millionmilesfromthesun (93mmfts) album, Fall Into Nothing, is a beauty. For folks who are already fans of the band, I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to love it. If you don’t know them, I assume that if you’re reading this review you have some experience with – and fondness for – music in the Shoegaze/Dreampop/etc galaxy of styles. If that’s true, please, give this one a try. You’ll be glad you did.
If I had to come up with a quick descriptor of the general 93mmfts sound, I’d call it “sonically dense.” Across three albums, several EPs, and a compilation of unreleased, remastered, and rerecorded tracks, they’ve pushed the boundaries of mid-tempo, fuzz-drenched, guitar-driven rock in impressively creative ways. Fall Into Nothing feels like the culmination of everything they’ve learned about building textures, creating moods, and layering basic elements of voice, guitar, bass, and drums into emotionally evocative songs. It’s a mature and thoughtful work, from the production and mixing to the way the sequencing of the songs carries the listener on a journey that feels like a natural progression every step of the way.
In reading reviews of past 93mmfts albums, I’ve often run across comparisons to Slowdive, and that connection never really rang true for me until this album. Slowdive didn’t have such a consistently saturated sound, but they had a comparable mastery of tone and mood. Another album that came to mind repeatedly as I listened to Fall Into Nothing was Bowery Electric’s self-titled first album. Although their sophomore effort, Beat, seems to get more press, their debut offers listeners a voyage through a fuzzed-out dreamscape that could be Fall Into Nothing’s gentler cousin.
Fall Into Nothing’s opening “Intro” enters with the sound of falling rain, and then brings in slowly shifting guitars that ride the edge of feedback, sounding as though Windy & Carl might have wandered in for a guest spot. From there, we move into “Reflections”, which is when we know for sure that this is 93mmfts. Compared to prior albums, the vocals ride a bit lower in the mix on Fall Into Nothing. Without a lyric sheet, it would be hard to tell you what the songs are about. Words come through here and there, but the main vocal contribution is to the overall tenor of the songs… it’s the emotion that comes through in the singing that’s important.
The mood across whole album is one of melancholy and longing. Even tracks whose titles sound brighter, like “Sunshine Girl” and “New Day Comes” give a sense that maybe the sunshine girl is one who got away, and the new day is arriving with thunderclouds on the horizon. The tracks on Fall Into Nothing aren’t defined by unexpected tempo changes or catchy vocal hooks, although there are moments that stand out. “Watch Her Fall”, the title track from the EP that preceded the album, has a memorable guitar melody that runs through the last two-thirds of the song, and it also benefits from a strong bass line. While guitars may be the stars of the show on Fall Into Nothing, the bass is an invaluable supporting player, bringing a meaty low end to the crunchy, fuzzy guitar layer underlying most of the songs.
“Watch Her Fall” segues into “Interlude I”, one of five short pieces (including the first and last tracks) that are a key part of the sequencing. They don’t break the album into thematic blocks, but they add variety to the pacing, letting the drums and bass drop out and sending the guitar off on solo journeys…while ”Interlude I” carries on with the noise, “Interlude II” lets the guitar shimmer and chime – again, Windy & Carl come to mind – and “Interlude III” slows things down before “See Forever” throws down the album’s most distinctive intro, with a prominent drum beat and a guitar line that treads between a shimmer and a whine.
In contrast to the short interludes, Fall Into Nothing includes a couple epics – “Flying” and “A Million Miles Away” both approach the 11-minute mark without feeling overextended. The hypnotic “Flying” turns down the fuzz, letting the vocals come more to the forefront. “A Million Miles Away” is a noisier affair, and a fitting climax to the album before “Outro” returns us to the rainy day where we started, with more atmospheric guitar work slowly winding things up and setting us free to go off and reflect on the 73-minute adventure we’ve now completed.
In closing, I’d offer a couple suggestions for getting maximal enjoyment out of this album. First off, give it a try in different settings… blasting it in the car and listening to it through a good pair of headphones offer very different insights into the music. Also, if you run the audio through an equalizer, this is the sort of album that can change dramatically depending on the settings, because different elements get pulled out of the mix. It’s worth playing around a bit and seeing what you might discover.
By phil locke