Slows Down is a one-man sadcore/chamber pop recording project of London-based Alexander Hawthorne. He’s a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who cites Swans, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Spiritualized among his main influences. His brother William wrote and directed a 2013 short film called Embers for which he did the score/soundtrack. Last Christmas, he released a version of “Silent Night”, and in February of this year, he released his debut EP called Slows Down.
I got something in the mail bag about this a few months ago, and while I meant to write about it sooner, I just saw the email again today and gave another listen.
Today’s song has a bit of a Spaghetti Western soundtrack sound. If Ennio Morricone’s scores were re-imagined by Portishead. Epic, sweeping soundscapes with minimal vocals buried way low in the mix. Hawthorne played all of the instruments except for the drums, which his brother played. He recorded it all himself in a monaural home studio. However, the quality is much better than what you might expect from a home-recorded DIY project. Frankly, when I hear “self-recorded at home”, I think of hundreds of examples of great albums that suffer because of the low sound quality usually characterized by lots of tape hiss and really dull or really tinny sound. This is none of that. This sounds quite good, and it’s hard to believe that this is just one man doing nearly all of it.
This is that song
“The Way Down Leering” by Slows Down
I love the eerie synthesizer. Sounds a bit like a saw or even a theremin a tannerin or some such electronic instrument. I’m always a sucker for that kind of thing, and that’s pretty much the star of the show here.
I’m also a sucker for tuned percussion, and while I can’t be sure, I’m assuming that the particular instrument here is a glockenspiel.
From 5:55 to the end of the song, it gets kind of big and loud and post-rock. I really like how that kind of snuck up on me, and it’s a brilliant way to end a great song.
In short, there’s a lot for me to like about this, and it’s an easy pick.
Incidentally, the EP also features a cover of The Walker Brothers’ “In My Room”. It’s not much like the original, and I like his version much better. As much as I want to like Scott Walker and The Walker Brothers, I just don’t. Their cover of the Frankie Valli song “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” is absolutely mind-blowing, but apart from that, I just can’t get into them or Scott Walker solo. And I’ve really tried. I’ve really really tried.
You can download the Slows Down EP by naming your own price from bandcamp here. You can also buy the four song EP in 12″ vinyl format.