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September 10, 2014


Believer, the debut full-length from Megafortress, is not a meditation on faith or devotion. It is a search, constantly twisting into darkness, where the identities of every object and intentions of every figure are unclear. The tracks seem to follow a sole searcher, a lost person, for whom faith is not a source of light amidst the obscurity but a delusion that only makes the ambiguities more terrifying.

Megafortress is the solo work of Brooklyn artist Bill Gillim. In 2012, Software released his debut s/t EP, a collection of gorgeous vocal meditations and ambient soundscapes. Believer boasts a bolder, naked vocal approach, telling a hauntingly intimate story. The ten songs give shape to a world that on the surface seems sweet and welcoming, but, in time, slowly unravels into a place of disorder, sickness, and disappearance. That ambiguity is written into the album at all levels.

Aurally, the record is at once lush and spare. Layered synthesizers and saxophone, occasional bass, sampled bells and natural sounds, tweaked voices, and Gillim’s warm, unaffected vocals create a honeyed sonic backdrop. However each track adheres to a kind of patient minimalism of its own logic. The songs persistently resist climax, instead corkscrewing or turning into the unexpected: minor and discordant notes, interrupted thoughts, always toward an eerie stillness.

That balance of melody and discord, hope and haunting, is reiterated in the overall arc of the record, which takes us over a route of happier melody into darker, more anxious, more echoing and spacious zones, until we are left, lying on our backs, hearing ourselves breathe. All the while, the story we are being told in words is revealed to be one of self-deception, devious and obscure figures, and wishful thinking.

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