Black Wing is a solo project masterminded, executed and recorded by the eclectic Dan Barrett, the man responsible for the bleak stylings of Giles Corey and one half of the the melancholic shoegazey drone lords Have a Nice Life. The project was initially conceived as an all-digital foray into the same kind of bleak-yet-beautiful sounds expounded upon by Barrett’s other solo project, Giles Corey. However, in the process something huge and lovely with a decidedly unique identity completely independent of his other projects emerged. Mixed with a healthy dose of personal pain and lamentation, the massive result is, on the surface, less bleak than beautiful, yet it still manages to convey the sense of melancholy and quiet, depressed reservation as the promised doom of Black Wing descends from the synth-laced heavens.
One of the strongest offerings of this album, is surprisingly the fact that it is a bit more accessible than the majority of Barrett’s other works. It is something you don’t really have to think very hard about to enjoy fully; as Barrett himself says: “…I decided to just go ahead and make a depressive chillwave record – basically, music to listen to in the car with the windows down while feeling slightly melancholy and distracted.” It is something you can lose yourself to without considering, but there is still plenty to be considered.
At it’s core, …Is Doomed is essentially a concept album dealing with a summer Dan Barrett was deathly ill. If Dan Barrett is Black Wing and this is the subject matter, the symbolism behind the album’s title, track names, and artwork become pretty obvious. With this in mind, the album’s dreamy tone takes on a decidedly different feel. This is the dreamlike haze of one quietly accepting their own death. Despite drifting it’s way into darker, heavier, territory at times, the majority of …Is Doomed sounds like a maze of uplifting, electronic, dreampop-esque synth compositions. Ranging from simplistic and ambient to heavily layered and noisey, the album is an emotional ride. The dreamy tone of the music and quiet, melancholic delivery of the vocals starkly at contrast with the bleak, depressing lyrics concerning the acceptance of one’s imminent demise.
Album closer ‘If I Let Him In’ is the perfect summation of this concept, the multitude of sounds and feelings broached upon this album, and my personal favorite track on the album. Clocking in as the longest song on the album at eight minutes and twenty seconds, the symbolism of death as a visitor attempting to enter one’s home is an obvious one, but an effective one. Hazed out, multi-tracked vocals set against beautiful, cascading synths and a rhythmic knocking comprise the first half of the song, as Barrett contemplates allowing the visitor in. As the track progresses, the synth becomes increasingly more muddled and noisier, washing out everything else, the inexorable knocking barely audible through the mix as the digital crash builds to a head and eventually breaks leaving the focus on Barrett’s voice repeatedly contemplating the consequences of letting him in before hissing and cracking noise begins to assert itself and the rhythmic knocking and dreamy waves of synth slowly wash back in and then out again. The track ends with the beautiful rays of celestial noise shining back through along with multiple tracks of Barrett’s voice, nearly lost in the background, emoting and still questioning, before sinking back away like the tide.