Album Review: T. Gowdy – Therapy With Colour

[Constellation; 2020]

Therapy With Colour is an album centred around the mind and the reprogramming of consciousness. T. Gowdy was inspired to create the aural textures on the album by using mind machines, which use rhythmic sound pulses and bursts of light and have the potential to elevate the user to shamanic levels of altered consciousness. The issue here, of course, may well be the degrees of focus commanded by a mind machine compared to an album. Music is for many a passive activity, with sound being used as a peripheral source of pleasure, soundtracking our lives as we go about our mundane day-to-day activities, whereas Therapy With Colour really requires your full attention, as it bristles with vivacity and effervescent energy, densely-packed with washes of sounds and pulses.

The album opens with the title track, which flickers into life with a propulsive and skittish high-pitched rhythm that is full of nervous energy. It gives the effect of entering Gowdy’s habitus, soon to be soothed by the overarching waves of sound that intermittently calm their vigour, allowing the music to take control. It’s a startling piece of music due to the interplay between the twitching and high-pitched, almost panicked rhythm, which jerks this way and that as it resists the calming synth tones beneath it. Finally it is subsumed into the mix by the track’s end, the outlier subjugated into the enveloping whole – the ego arrested.

Therapy With Colour relies heavily on repetition. Metronomic and quasi-Motorik rhythms throb away throughout the five tracks as various synth lines intertwine and deviate away from one another like brain waves coming in and out of focus. When the bass drum on “Depse” finally establishes itself towards the end of the track there is a palpable sense of exhilaration, which is contradictory, as it validates the ghost rhythm experienced prior whilst also deepening the listener’s experience in the track, not out of it. It makes you want to submit your mind – rather than your body – to the beat.     

The minimal tech beats used on the album are key to an understanding of Gowdy’s intentions, as they present themselves deep within the mix, implicit rather than explicit and crude. On “No Wave II”, the percussive rhythm sashays around like rain falling on corrugated iron, surely one of the most comforting, full-on ASMR sounds there is. Synths oscillate at ever-increasing intensity, while occasional partial-melodies sweep in and out of focus, flickering through the reverie of the listener. 

The world has slowed down since the outbreak of you-know-what, and some see this as a blessing of sorts. We have been afforded a chance to reflect on how we live out our short time on the planet, perhaps resulting in promises to change ourselves in order to focus on the newly-discovered important aspects of life. Of course, such thoughts come from a position of privilege, as a good number of others are carrying on as they were, whilst some rapidly descend into deep-seated poverty and despair. Individual well-being is front and centre of Therapy With Colour, and is perhaps therefore an antidote to the justifiable anger felt from the botched efforts of many world governments who care only for economic growth.  

Therapy With Colour is an escape; a diversion away from the world and aspects of ourselves that stem from the culture around us. T. Gowdy uses a sound palette of richness and enveloping depth that attempts to cocoon the listener for its duration. The album falls somewhere between the ambient stillness of the work of Scanner, the bastard twitchiness of Growing and the eerie magic of Coil, as there is simultaneous stasis and energy across the tracks. It’s a blissful work which aims to soothe rather than smother, invigorate rather than infiltrate.