Daniel Davies : Spies

There’s really nothing better than when an artist not only hits expectations, but exceeds them exponentially. Daniel Davies started out as a guitarist in some successful bands back in the early 2000s. Year Long Disaster, Karma To Burn, and CKY were all bands Davies played in and did quite well in.

In 2015 he began collaborating with John and Cody Carpenter on what would become Carpenter’s Lost Themes albums. He went on to tour with Carpenter as well, being a part of his live band. Since then, Davies has been a full-time collaborator on all of John Carpenter’s studio releases, as well as writing and performing on David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequels(three of them in fact, with Halloween Kills dropping in October, while Halloween Ends will release in 2022.)

With all of this collaborating Daniel Davies has still had time to work on music as a solo artist, too. 2018 saw the release of Events Score, a documentary film score Soeurs De Glisse in 2019, and the audio/visual record Signals in early 2020. Davies has now just released the dark and cinematic Spies. This is an EP that touches on the feeling of being watched, or “psychic staring effect”. It’s an album that builds on tension through layered strings, synth, and guitar, and drops you into a sonic world of mysterious drones and darkly-lit intentions.

Over the course of Spies five tracks, there’s a sense of unease. “The Bomber” and it’s opening droning notes gives way to dark synth notes. The track explodes in bright electronics that feels somewhere between Vangelis and Klaus Schulze. It’s kind of breathtaking. “Ceremony” sounds like receiving radio signals from deep space. It has the vibe of a horror film; a psychic crack in the universe releasing something sinister on us. Incidental music for the nervous breakdown. Title track “Spies” puts me in mind of Cliff Martinez’ work on Kafka; foreboding, monolithic, and dramatic with strings building tension.

“Out of the Night” is one of the most cinematic pieces, bringing to mind classic 70s scores with its strings building slowly. But Davies adds modern electronic touches and twists and turns the melodies into his own unique sound. A cross between Jerry Goldsmith and Hans Zimmer, but still very much Daniel Davies.

I imagine when you are a main collaborator with someone like John Carpenter there are expectations laid on your shoulders, both by listeners and yourself. Daniel Davies doesn’t seem to have a problem separating himself from those projects, as he’s proven time and time again with his solo albums. Spies continues to seem Davies building his own music history and his own sonic style. It’s an impressive feat, and an even more impressive listen.

8.2 out of 10

Spies’ is available now via Sacred Bones Records. Buy it here.

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