Hating your own singing voice might be an issue for some solo artists. However, New Zealand’s Roy Montgomery has managed to create a sense of character so distinct via his droning, churning, echoing layers of guitars that the shimmering dream world he creates often sings louder than any voice could. On his latest album, Suffuse, he brings in a series of collaborators—Liz Harris of Grouper, Circuit Des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, Julianna Barwick, She Keeps Bees, Purple Pilgrims, and Katie Von Schleicher—to sing lead vocals.
Montgomery’s incandescent guitar parts stack on top of one another to create an engulfing fog of ambience that almost feels palpable, such are the density of its textures. Crackling ambience bubbles underneath as the guest vocalists glide in and hover above. Fohr’s Scott Walker-esque tone on “Apparition” cries above the incessant and propulsive twang of strings, whilst on “Mirage” Barwick offers almost mini-operatic bursts. On the closing “Landfall,” Harris’s voice almost magically intersperses with the guitars, becoming a ghostly yet stirring presence.
The most remarkable accomplishment of this record is in taking such inimitable voices and managing to create something that feels like six individual chapters from the same book; each track is unique in its character but all of them weave together to form a sonic coherence that’s seamless throughout the record.