Melancholic, yet mesmerising, yet tender; lockdown-isolation was another fuel to fill Fog Lake’s musical engine. Defined by mellow, ambient, reverberant and cold instrumentation and noises, Aaron Powell’s music under his Fog Lake ‘alias’ has been further perpetuated into a sadness, centric to his relationship with his hometown.
The power of Fog Lake and his vocal production is arguably the source for which we measure and compare Powell’s sadness. Latter Day Saint and June are sunk back with more extensive reverberation and downgraded quality. ‘I sit and think now, another drink now’ from Latter Day Saint is one of the more distinguishable lines, implicitly speaking for itself.
Sullivan, Crocodile and Pity Party further offer Fog Lake’s repetitive, yet secluding and droning tones are themes, central to the alias’ personality. Sullivan and Crocodile epitomise Fog Lake within the realm of piano/synths underlying and carrying the feeling of dread under every note of every bar. The juxtaposing title Pity Party further executes Powell’s Fog Lake ‘manifesto’; but with delicately fiddled strings, extensions of the range of this seemingly excluding ‘droning’ tone offers an alternate sadness to Powell’s songwriting.
The singles’ coming prior to Tragedy Reel’s release: Jitterbug, Dakota and Catacombs, further reinforce Fog Lake’s bind with his hometown (from his previous work), and blindness to the world outside. A persistent sound embeds itself into Powell’s work, although defined under the general term ‘lo-fi’, his drum tracks are distinctly clear; this blend of clarity with his ‘sunken’ and ‘drowned’ synthesised tones overrides elements of the clarity, further bonded with the lyrical content. Jitterbug, Dakota and Catacombs respectively allude to his memories of a high-school romance, homesickness and seeming bereavement. Catacombs deceptively, with the lack of Powell’s signature suppressing synths, implies a contrary ‘brighter’ tone, but the everlasting gloom of Fog Lake becomes apparent with each stroke of his guitar. Dakota stretches our hopes of happiness for Powell even further, but as far as we’re brought out of our Fog Lake comfort-zone, we are soon plunged even deeper into his despair. Dakota: “alluding to [Fog Lake’s] experiences constantly moving back and forth from… my hometown to the island of Newfoundland”. Tragedy Reel’s singles have carried Fog Lake’s now perfected balances of instrumentation, musicianship and production in forming (and continuing to write) music that hesitates to step off the cliff of ‘gloom’ into an abyss of over-emotional allusions and reminiscences.
Following on from Dakota, Crystalline also alludes to homesickness, but without being dragged away from Fog Lake’s baseline of gloom: ‘I’ve been away for so long’. Fog Lake creates a tympanic addiction shrouded in musical regularity, with Crystalline, the significance of introducing the album with a steady four-four swung drum-loop that buries itself deep in our perception and the song, implies a need, and desire, for regularity – giving significance to his alluding homesickness, until its demise and replace with a melancholic piano.
Featured Image by: Kristopher Crane