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God's Own Medicine - Afar (2018) - Review

Band: God's Own Medicine
Album title: Afar
Release date: 19 February 2018
Label: Alchera Visions

01. Drive
02. The Snow Queen
03. Sleep
04. Downtown
05. Hollow
06. Afar
07. Despair Was On My Tongue
08. Constellation Of The Dragon
09. Half Way
10. Staring At The Sun
11. Flame

God's Own Medicine returned to the scene with a new album after almost four years since their magnificient effort Drachma. This Polish one man band, named after the debut studio album of UK's gothic rock giants The Mission, is with every new release offering something new, not settling down into one direction, the man behind God's Own Medicine, Andy (Andrzej Turaj), known also from the amazing melancholic pop/rock duo Hidden By Ivy, has this time created an immersive dark art rock album dominated by brilliant melodies, nostalgia and exceptionality, that has a lot in common with the dark sounds of 80s and 90s. If the previous album, Drachma, released in 2014, was more straight, post-punk and gothic rock oriented, Afar is way more experimental and somehow difficult to categorize. Of course that this album is not an easy listen, but it certainly can become very addictive and mind penetrating after some spins.

Afar is already the fifth full-length for God's Own Medicine and it's also the most complex one, interweaving several elements like darkwave, new wave, indie rock, shoegaze, art rock, ambient, gothic rock, post-punk and even jazz into one hell of a atmospheric guitar driven coherent thing. The synthpop beginnings of God's Own Medicine are now long forgotten. Afar has enough depth, atmosphere and pathos, the extraordinary songwriting skills of Andy are on every consequent release of his even more evident. I don't like to compare this album with his past releases, but I can say that if Drachma got me in an instant, I needed time for Afar, a lot of time, and now I can say that maybe I like it even more.

The foggy ambiances of the rather upbeat indie rock opener "Drive" don't really show what kind of a sonic amalgam awaits in the rest of the songs. Carefully performed smooth but demanding layers of guitar lines, deep reverberate bass lines, complex drumming, many acoustic parts, well used gloomy synths where necessary to deepen the ambiance, and emotive mind penetrating vocals are the main characteristics here. On this album Andy got some help from his artist friends and that's why the whole thing sounds natural and like if being performed by a proper full band. There are some amazing female/male duets where Andy gets the company of Inga Habiba (Lorien) on the evocative emotionally charged and rather ethereal "Downtown", and by Baśnia Lipińska who sangt on sparkling, yet broadening "Sleep", on melancholic "Half Way" and on very emotional, a bit evocative "Staring At The Sun", which feels like if The Mission, Pink Floyd and Dead Can Dance had a child together. There's also an interesting addition of saxophone on "Constellation Of The Dragon" played by Rafał Wawszkiewicz (Merkabah) and of traditional Turkish stringed folk musical instrument baglama, played by Paweł Goździewicz (Dogs In Trees) on the amazing, rather suspenseful, yet dark and nicely building up in tension album title track.

I must say that I wasn't that much impressed by a couple of tracks, like is the mellow "Hollow" or simply strange, a bit elusive "Despair Was On My Tongue". But I'll consider those as necessary fillers, especially because what follows, like the bluesy/jazzy noir gloom of "Constellation Of The Dragon", which is such a surprising nicely building up song with some heavy guitars and perfectly fitting saxophone sound at the end of it. The album is to a certain degree quite dramatic and throughout enough dynamic. There are so many captivating melodies, dreamy ambiances and various layers just waiting to be discovered until the last note of the floydian "Flame" ends up the album on a very high level. 

Afar offers a lot, it's an abundant and eclectic album by all means. Even though that in the first place it offers kind of a retro dark atmosphere that will take us back in time into 80s and 90s, it has kind of a contemporary vibe. Absolutely great production, mix and gloomy artwork are another surpluses that just give additional points to this release. It's not an easy album, it needs devotion from the listener to grasp it properly, it's not an album to dance around while listening to it, even if you could to some rhythms, I think that Afar is not meant for that, it's is one of those albums that will be best consumed in your own solitude with headphones on your head and reading the thoughtful lyrics, or while driving the car on an empty road in some kind of a beautiful scenario.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10