Before We Say Goodbye
This is Irish minimalist Donnacha Costello's first full length album for Poker Flat Recordings. Before We Say Goodbye is an exquisite work, to say the least. Focusing on a rich blueprint, with echoes of Chicago house, Detroit techno and UK ambient techno flowing through its futuristic core, Donnacha explores further his love for deep, hypnotizing grooves, rich synth themes and emotive harmonies. The opening bars of introductory track "Leaving Berlin" welcome the listener into Donnacha's sprawling musical landscape. Intertwining layers of lovingly-expressed synth themes build and recede in an honest and subtle game of balance. Setting the tone for the album then, similar themes are mirrored later on and gracefully resurrected in new lights. Color in sound, space and clarity are at the center of the wonderful production found in every track. Donnacha used only a strict handful of vintage equipment; in fact, aside from the drums which were processed using Native Instruments' Maschine, all the musical elements were created using only the Roland SH-101, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 Rev2 without Midi and the New England Digital Synclavier II. Those rare and mesmerizing tones and textures, respectfully and accurately conveyed, form the heart-melting melodies of tracks like "It's What We Do" or "The Tug" -- tunes clearly inspired by difficult personal experiences that Donnacha chose to translate into glorious moments of musicality. These versatile instruments work in unison to provide lush and dense soundscapes, tense sci-fi dramatics or pulsing acidic workouts like "Stretching Time." Being a personal album, there are numerous references to the club sound that Costello is of course well known for. From the rousing post-deep house of "A Warm Embrace," to the tougher technoid jams of "No-One Is Watching" or "Roll It Out," a natural ear for dancefloor mechanics is at play, yet the emotional element never strays far. Clocking in at just under an hour, it's a satisfying journey, but not an exhausting one. Donnacha was keen to tell a story that can be listened to in one session, while the listener is on the move perhaps, or in other transitory states, allowing full connection with the music and reflection upon some of the themes laid out within. Full of deep personal messages; music undoubtedly from the heart, it's something that will surely take up a special place in the life of the listener. As the final bars of concluding track "Last Train Home" sink into the sub-conscious, the listener is left with the feeling that something very important, worthwhile and life-enriching has just passed through their head-space.