BM-FotH-FrontHere’s an odd one for me: Black Mare is basically a solo vehicle for Sera Timms, bassist and vocalist with Ides Of Gemini and the (I think defunct) Black Math Horseman. And from my limited acquaintance, it’s unlike either. This is a strange, dark and pretty little throwback in a lot of ways as, save for a little flirting with the most ethereal edges of atmospheric and ambient black metal, this lies back all languid and dreamlike in the arms of the memory of the heyday of the 4AD label when they were almost a genre in themselves.

This is not even metal related, just to warn you. This is delicate, drifting, darkwave, gorgeous goth, shoegaze synthpop waves of undulating and contemplative mood music. A touch of Cocteau Twins, a hazy veil reminding you distantly of early Dead Can Dance, perhaps even a longing look in the direction of Slowdive and long forgotten goth rock band Cybele. But also inevitably with the quite beautiful soft, echoing, dreamlike vocals rising and falling in layered waves, Julee Cruise in her Lynchian times.

Here are seven passages of a strange hazy dream. Often untroubled by more than a mere suggestion of drums and led by those superbly talented vocals of Ms Timms. Though dark in tune and touch, there is nothing sinister here. This is for me an album of warmth, of floating. Things, themes, drift through fingertips dangling in warm waters and, like slow swimming eels pass on. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are new or echoes of tracks gone before but in the beginning that is the beauty of this album: the gentle massaging music. The deeper you drift into its waters the more the subtle changes become clear.

This is not music for everyone, or for all moods. This is for those soft, personal moments when you are free simply to cast yourself adrift in the arms of a Morpheus of your own and see where those tendrils of thought take you. This is a sumptuous bed, silk and warmth and maybe just a breath of a fever dream, but still knowing that even if things pass and fade you are safe there. Secret passions? Smoke-like memories? Anything and all.

It might hark back but this is still music to craft your own time to. Beautifully played and sung, richly composed, in a world of blip-grind primary colour explosion information overload this is your midnight blue, soft ebony shaded retreat. I want to stay here.

(8/10 Gizmo)