Published Feb 25, 2019Montreal's Alex Stooshinoff (Patient Hands) wrote his debut full-length, Stoic, immediately after coming out of a dark period. About this time, Stooshinoff says, "I lost myself somewhere inside me." Within oscillating gentle folk murmurings and coarse dronescapes, Stooshinoff distils his dark years into abstract lyrical sketches. As the album unfolds, there's a hypnotic shift from darkness to light when Stooshinoff maps his emergence and celebrates survival. As Stooshinoff writes in his album's description, ultimately, "Stoic is a love record."
Stoic begins and ends with departure. The gentle opening track, "At Parting," centres on a repetitive and entrancing piano melody and Stooshinoff, in turn, is lulled into darkness. By album's end, Stooshinoff leaves this chapter behind. The air is clearer in the closer "Calm," as the cloudy instrumentation of previous tracks has rolled away. Anchored by a steadily picked acoustic guitar, Stooshinoff sounds both calm and confident.
In between, Stooshinoff navigates through his trauma. On "Anaesthetic," he asks, "What's eating my insides?" and by the following track, "Envelopment," his pain manifests as a caustic shroud of whiney distortion. "I Shaved My Father's Face" and "The Poisoner" are both extensive songs that begin in hushed tones before melodramatically lashing out. Appearing in the latter half of Stoic, album highlight "Something Vanishing" swells with relief and quells the grief of the preceding songs. Stooshinoff floats on air here as he relinquishes himself to love and goodness, repeating, "I surrender." (Independent)