A collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves – he of Crippled Black Phoenix fame – and Swedish singer Belinda Kordic, Se Delan first introduced themselves to the wider world almost exactly two years ago with their debut album The Fall. Now they are all set to return with its follow-up, Drifter. And where similarly huge swathes of dreamy, atmospheric pop are still very much in place on the new record, they are now underscored by a much darker resonance.
With its focus upon what Kordic describes as death and the final destination, opening song ‘Going Home’ may well set a lyrically sombre tone for the rest of the record but the sheer uplifting nature of the music raises the overall tone to something that exists way above and beyond the funereal. Assisted by 1000 ravenous skulls, Greaves – who plays all of the instruments on Drifter – and Kordic co-exist in a strange, beautiful union for the length of the record’s duration.
Belinda Kordic’s voice – a soft, sensual, gossamer timbre – floats effortlessly over Greaves’ glorious, chiming guitar chords in much the same way that Elizabeth Fraser did with Robin Guthrie all those years ago in the Cocteau Twins. Her words may well be sepulchral but the manner in which she bends them around Greaves’ guitar subverts their meaning into something that is altogether more joyful and radiant. In this world, death is much less about the end than being some final, comforting refuge.
Since the release of The Fall, Justin Greaves may well have been plagued by an internecine struggle with former guitarist Karl Demata over the rights to the Crippled Black Phoenix name. But Greaves emerged from that battle victorious and he seems to have carried that triumphal air onto the recording of Drifter. Fear No Ghosts, intones Kordic as the album draws to a euphoric close in a torrential squall of celestial voices and guitar.
Drifter is released on 29th April 2016 through Kscope records.