The recording project of Manon Raupp and Daniel Selig, French duo Docks makes a distinctive brand of instrumental music, touching upon post-rock, slowcore and dream pop to create what the band describe as ‘snoozepop’. Last year we were lucky enough to premiere their debut EP, Montseny, and there we attempted to sum up their sound:
[Docks create] something at once grand and languid, the guitars weaving a wide ocean over which we float and bob in somnambulant motion, while also conjuring a sense of the size and depth, as though that around and beneath us is worthy of respect and awe.
The band are back with a brand new release, Ballast EP, which sees Docks undergoing subtle change and evolution. Things kick off with ‘Œuvres vives’, a taut, lean song that threatens to expand into heavy territory yet never quite does, and ‘Kiosk’ follows in a similar manner, the foreboding of the opening never quite precipitating into the storm it promises.
This is something of a theme on the record, though that’s not to say the tone remains entirely understated. The subversive, noir-ish tone of ‘Œuvres mortes’ certainly pushes into dark territory, while the slow tick of ‘Nafarros’ does swell across its smouldering length, though again the songs stop short of the post rock depth of previous releases. Even ‘Motorhome’, with its mean, electrically-charged air, does not allow the reverb to take over, and indeed it is absent from ‘Pan Bleu’, which heralds a return to the even tone of the opening.
In this way, the songs feel more mature and confident, relying on the implied and withheld to convey atmosphere rather than merely burying us in noise. Think the centre of a venn diagram between Mogwai’s Les Revenants soundtrack and Yo La Tengo’s for Old Joy—a simplicity that belies its own nature, born as it is from a struggle between melancholic beauty and needling dread.