Our life in the desert is a collaborative project between two artists who have paved their own separate paths in the UK dream-pop scene. Joe Cassidy of Butterfly Child and Gary McKendry of Papa Sprain form My Bus, sharing their own sensibilities on a project that’s three decades in the making. Resulting in a hefty collection of esoteric and rich soundscapes. With McKendry’s expertise in post-rock impressionism and Cassidy’s heartfelt songwriting, the two have managed to mix both worlds into something that’s other-worldly and deeply emotional.
The album is filled with ambient and experimental sounds, from industrial echoes to arcane synths that weave in and out, they pack each track with various textures and moods. No doubt led by McKendry, who has a Youtube channel filled with abstract aural sketches and illustrations. This is balanced by Cassidy’s poignant lyrics, as he sings about lovers come and gone, about their friendship, and their fond remembrance of the past.
“Weekend Hearts” introduces us to the soothing mist of sound that’s a trademark of the whole album. The guitars gently weeps in the background as Cassidy’s mournful voice details the flickering lights of a dying relationship.
“Ballerina” is pulsing with optimism, filled with intricate swells in ascending movement. The interweaving of mechanical noises at the bridge of the song blends well with Cassidy’s voice as he sings in anticipation of what tomorrow may bring.
“Elvis and Me” is a romantic song that remembers days that have passed. Cassidy describes this in vivid imagery as he sings “You blink it’s gone, there’s only love”. Accompanied by an aqueous embellishment that guides us through a dream. Plenty of negative space fills up “Moon Tempo”, an exploration of sounds that can either take you to the deep end of the ocean or the emptiness of space.
“Breakfast in Bed” is as pleasant and warm as its title suggests. The lingering melodic chimes dance like a ray of sunshine, each element is perfectly mixed together. This is an old My Bus track that’s newly recorded, proving that good things take time to grow.
“Goose Pimples Forever” is the magnum opus of the album with its 7 minute runtime. Also a relic of the past, rescued from an old My Bus cassette. Joe adds vocals to Gary’s original, balancing between duel and duet. A track’s depth shines with this in context. A testament to their enduring partnership.
My Bus makes use of time to great effect. Most tracks have quiet meditative sections that may lead listeners into thinking they’ve turned off their device, but it lends itself well to the calm and serene flow of each proceeding section. You can feel the passing of time as you move through the album, the journey that both artists have been through, and the friendship they have forged despite the passing of time and the distance between them. There is nothing dry and desolate about Our Life in a Desert. McKendry and Cassidy crafted a 48 minute oeuvre that would surely age like fine wine.
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