Black Hours gathers various musicians under the direction of Dave Malkin. Their first EP Saccharine is indie rock that has its own distinct character. An amalgamation of varying styles of music that includes pop, classical, jazz, and a good helping of traditional folk. Its rich instrumentation and stellar production gives each song an epic scale, like getting lost in a great landscape across fields and forests in the British countryside. Malkin’s lyrics are steeped in storytelling traditions of old, meticulously crafting a world full of poetry and fantasy.
“Pertichor” is written like a lyrical poem that explores the word’s origins in various different contexts with each verse. Ranging from the emotions that rain brings to references in Greek mythology. Brushed up drums, guitar arpeggios and horns accompany Malkin’s deep baritone in this tightly woven composition.
Lead single and title track “Saccharine” is full of imagery that stimulates the senses. A symphonic arrangement of strings and female backing vocals climbs and dips in syncopation, guiding the listener to peaks of joy and valleys of sorrow. A reflection of having something so sweet that it sometimes becomes hurtful.
It’s hard to pass off “The Place Was a Wilderness” as just a short spoken word interlude. This midpoint number supports the narrative of the whole EP and accentuates the fantastical theme of the next track. “Secret Garden” is the collection’s highlight. Timea Gazdag’s soprano voice contrasts Malkin’s colder tones. A wondrous piano and string arrangement invites the listener to get lost in the woods. Its two characters go through tragedy and growth in their own intimate space.
“Ophelia” is a song that takes Malkin’s voice to a more operatic space. It has a cadence akin to a lyrical epic. Fluttering keys accompany him as he welcomes the rare London sun after the storm Ophelia: “When I wake / sepia sky / dusky hue / scattered light”. He then explores Hamlet’s character of the same name in a theatrical arrangement coupled with a glorious trumpet arrangement that radiates and glows through the end.
Saccharine is what you get when an artist that has a clear vision with rich literary and musical influences is joined by a band of equally great musicians. Whether you are looking for innovations in the indie scene or are interested in how classical and traditional music could be used in a more pop oriented context, Black Hours is a project that you should look out for.
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