Low Company & Feeding Tube Records / UK / 2021
Just another album by The Doozer.
One concerned with illness (not that one) and recovery. Inside to outside. Darkness into light. A way through the woods.
The Doozer aka Simon Loynes is now seven LPs into a subterranean solo voyage begun in 2007, and to those of us who have followed it, the songs that make up Convalescence could be seen to embody a kind of late style - ultra-lucid, pared-down, precise; seemingly simple in form, richly complex in effect.
Where The Doozer’s last outing, 2018’s Figurines (FT2018), showcased his songs at their most propulsive and and electrified, Convalescence is a more hushed, hermitic, even claustrophobic affair - dispensing with percussion almost entirely, the focus is tight on Loynes’ voice and plangent acoustic guitar, with occasional daubings and interludes of wheezing keyboard, all recorded to Tascam 246 4-track cassette in Edinburgh, Summer 2019.
For a considerable chunk of time, health issues had left Loynes unable to sing. On this record you can hear him rediscovering his voice: its unique grain, its responsiveness, its capacity for creating and sustaining emotional ambiguity, for oscillating elegantly between whimsy and woundedness.
As with previous Doozer albums, there’s an arcadian impulse at the heart of Convalescence: a sense of exile, or withdrawal, from ‘The Garden’ - and the need to return. The idea that, in your lowest ebb, you might recover your sense of self somewhere in the pastoral landscape of your memories. We're told the shadow of Malcolm Lowry looms large over the record – Lowry the void-chaser, the great misadventurer. Does Convalescence report from the abyss? If so then it's with a coolness and control that conceals as much as it reveals.
But beyond the neurosis, the ironic deflections, the flashes of matter-of-fact bleakness (“there isn’t time / there isn’t love”), there lies a deep, Lowry-ish romanticism, and a rejection of pessimism: even at its lowest ebb, Convalescence gestures towards an immense and loving truth – and knows that the possibility of that truth is far more interesting than the numerous ways in which it might be denied.
NB: Convalescence is a co-release with Feeding Tube Records USA. The LP comes with a download code.