Using only a very minimal palette of sounds, brothers Adam and Sam Sherry – who make up the entirety of A Dead Forest Index – manage to create a vast, perfectly orchestrated expanse of sound. Employing mostly only simple motifs on guitar, piano and drums, with Adam’s androgynous voice laid gently over the top, much of All That Drifts from Summit Down envelops the listener in a sound world so dreamy that it could transport your ears to a soft and relaxed state even if listened to on a hectic commute or in a crowded office. The wash of reverb which soaks every sound does a lot to aid the immersive feeling of this album, but the feature which takes every track above and beyond almost everything else existing in the ‘indie’ circuit at the moment is the beauty in the vocals.
Lush, choral vocal arrangements permeate all of the many highlights of this album. Adam’s confident yet airy melodies and harmonies are layered gradually over one another, creating a rich and warm texture to get completely lost in. On ‘Cast of Lines’, the looping choir of Adams build their intertwined tones to such a beautiful zenith that it is hard to do anything but let yourself be carried away softly on their feather-light pillow of vocal luxury. Tracks like ‘Tide Walks’ and ‘No Paths’ develop from humble beginnings into multi-layered masterworks due solely to the gradual expanding in scope of Adam’s voice. ‘Silver Thread of Sun’ is another example of this technique perfected, but really it is a feature which is a present strength on every track.
None of this takes away from the importance of Sam Sherry’s input here. The subtle piano lines underpin much of the songwriting, and the drums match the feeling of every track. When things do get a little less angelic in the middle of the album, with the slightly unnerving ‘Ringing Sidereal’, the short, uncomforting piano interlude ‘Swims Out’ and the more driving ‘In Greyness the Water’, the drum-work is what brings much of the discomfort to the fore, and a faint discord filters even through the swathes of vocals.
‘Myth Retraced’ is another more direct number and could certainly carry some clout amongst the singles released by bigger names that A Dead Forest Index should be considered peers with. Scattered throughout All That Drifts from Summit Down, there are moods comparable to a more pensive Fleet Foxes, or a more expansive, shoegazing Chelsea Wolfe (with whom the band are currently touring), but in truth, A Dead Forest Index have carved a sound which is entirely their own and which deserves to bring them widespread acclaim. There are edgy, unexpected notes in the harmonic changes to challenge the intelligent listener, without ever sacrificing what is a near perfect, encompassing atmosphere. A Dead Forest Index have not forced anything here, seeming like they don’t feel the need to prove themselves and are simply releasing an organic and beautiful collection of songs straight from their hearts. This could take indie music to the next level.