Slow Dancing Society

Slow Dancing Society““a complexity of sound that allows it to stand out from traditionally ambient music… It is easy to get dissolved in this album, to let yourself fall into meditation as the music plays… an aural delight” The Silent Ballet

Slow Dancing Society is Washington-based producer and musician Drew Sullivan. As with Brian Eno’s finest moments and David Sylvian’s ambient explorations, Slow Dancing Society’s music manages to dissolve its temporal markers and speak about moments removed from time. It talks to the delicious flaws of memory and feeling whilst never sullying itself with literality or simple documentation.

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Discography

 

The Sound of Lights When Dim (2017 Remaster)


28th February 2017

First released back in 2006, The Sound of Lights When Dim was one of Hidden Shoal’s most acclaimed early releases, landing on many ‘best of’ ambient lists. It introduced Drew Sullivan as an artist capable of imbuing minimal ambient compositions with enviable depth and emotion. While he has gone on to release another six full-length albums, his debut album still stands among his best work, unfolding as one long sumptuous ride towards a fading horizon.

As with Eno’s finest moments and Sylvian’s ambient explorations, The Sound of Lights When Dim manages to dissolve its temporal markers and speak about moments removed from time. It talks to the delicious flaws of memory and feeling, while never sullying itself with literality or simple documentation. The fact that album track ‘A Song That Will Help You Remember to Forget’ has been streamed over 5 million times on Spotify speaks to the album’s lasting appeal.

The Sound of Lights When Dim is available as a limited edition clear vinyl and in digital formats. To coincide with the release, the reissue is accompanied by a set of remixes of tracks from the original album by Echo Grid, Antonymes, Fr33dom People, Candlepark Stars, Startle the Heavens, Spenzar, Chloe March, and Monte Xannic.

 

The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour


23rd August 2016

On his seventh full-length release as Slow Dancing Society, Drew Sullivan’s sound continues to evolve. This 19-track epic meshes the warm, rich SDS sound with a new set of textures, bringing these musical snapshots into vivid definition. Trumpet and saxophone nestle amidst lyrical guitar lines, pulsing rhythms and expansive synths, creating an immersive and melancholy listen, tempered with rays of hope.

Sullivan’s work is as cinematic as ever, yet here he’s scoring a more personal film. Profoundly influenced by Sullivan’s experience of becoming a father for the first time, the album took shape around the creation of single ‘The Color of Despair’. The track distilled his anxieties about his new life and responsibilities, and became ground zero for the album’s sound and production, with many other songs on the album evolving out of its instrumentation and feel. The ambient lyricism present here is a testament to the narrative possibilities of instrumental music, resulting in a strikingly complete-sounding album.

 

The Dusk Recital

The Dusk Recital was borne out of the sessions for Slow Dancing Society’s last album The Cogent Sea and is, in part, an instrumental homage to the mainstream dream-pop of the 90s. Cavernous drums, minimal guitar licks a la Roxy Music, and smooth saxophone lines feature prominently across these six tracks, all enveloped in the unmistakable Slow Dancing Society sound and feel. This is Drew Sullivan at his most playful, offering us a glimpse into some of the guilty pleasures he acknowledges as influences, while also delivering a deliciously smooth and immersive listening experience.

The Cogent Sea

Slow Dancing Society’s sixth album The Cogent Sea is another absorbing progression in Drew Sullivan’s mesmerising discography. The album continues the submersed exploration of Sullivan’s ’80s influences while also drawing upon an incredibly focused and cinematic ambient minimalism. There are trademark elements from across Slow Dancing Society’s stunning, critically acclaimed back catalogue, but rather than being throwbacks they present a continuity of narrative that is rarely found over such a large body of work. On single ‘A Clearing’, gently overlapping waves of synthesizer are suspended amid sustained tones, holding the listener transfixed before Sullivan’s trademark guitar sound gently brings the listener back down to earth, transformed. Second single ‘Pull’ is aptly titled, its droning radiance, warm piano chords and magnetic guitar figures pulling the listener irresistibly into its enveloping glow. This is Slow Dancing Society at his masterful, immersive best.

Laterna Magica

Slow Dancing Society’s fifth album Laterna Magica demonstrates another key progression in the Slow Dancing Society discography, which is becoming one of the essential bodies of work in contemporary ambient music. The tracks are underpinned by gorgeous guitar drift and warm synth wash, sparingly propelled by throbbing electronic undercurrents. From the soft-focus exhalation of ‘A Few Moments’, via the gleaming musical universe of recently released single ‘I’ll Leave A Light On’, through to the hypnotic pulse and drifting melancholic piano of finale ‘Tomorrow’s Another Day’, Laterna Magica is a definitive Slow Dancing Society release.

Under The Sodium Lights

Following on from the ebullient warmth of the critically acclaimed Priest Lake Circa ’88, Under The Sodium Lights is Drew Sullivan’s latest ambient epic. The album feels like a distillation of the three stunning releases that preceded it – and as such is Sullivan’s finest work to date. The delicate interplay between focused melodic details and blurred washes of sound draws the listener into a hypnotised state, where the waking world and the world of sleep cascade in and out of balance. First single ‘…and to the dust we shall return’ sees the gradual accretion of reverberant guitar tones, emerging from the silence as sparse reflections across the stereo field. Slow searching melodies overlap and accumulate before a descending bass figure carries the song home to its elegiac conclusion. From the luscious, tactile dream of ‘The Songs In Your Eyes’ to hopeful finale ‘Love Is On The Way’, Under The Sodium Lights resonates with a rich emotional core – and the choking realisation of our own transience. The album rewards immersive listening from start to finish, to really soak in its beauty.

Priest Lake Circa ’88

Following on from the ice-sculpted cinematics of the critically praised The Slow and Steady Winter, Priest Lake Circa ’88 is Drew Sullivan’s finest work to date. In essence, it is the second part of a double album that began with The Slow and Steady Winter, acting as a long-distance conclusion to the double album’s narrative arc. Priest Lake Circa ’88 exudes restraint and repose, yet is so richly melodic and full. While the album draws its raw form from ambient music, post rock and even dream pop, it is masterfully crafted into something that could only ever find itself under the Slow Dancing Society moniker. The album speaks of both departure and eventual return, and perhaps in its broadest sense the notion of “home”. Above all, this is music to bathe in: warm, steamy and all-encompassing.

The Slow and Steady Winter

From the outset The Slow and Steady Winter sets itself up to be an epic. Clocking in at over an hour long and comprising of only eight tracks the album paints its majestic landscapes with both measure and purpose, unfolding a sound that moves from immersive ambient evocations to beatific bliss rock. The Slow and Steady Winter is not concerned with singularity but rather the totality of experience. The album is a gorgeously choreographed chronicle of a Spokane winter from the ice covered fields of ‘The Early Stages of Decline’ to the thawed warm edges of spring in ‘February Sun’. The album serves as a wonderful progression from Slow Dancing Society’s previous work both in sound and mood. In part it presents a much darker vision while still radiating an ineffable sense of humanity and heart.

The Sound of Lights When Dim

The Sound of Lights When Dim is a sumptuous unfolding ride towards a fading horizon. As with Eno’s finest moments and Sylvian’s ambient explorations, this work manages to dissolve its temporal markers and speak about moments removed from time. It talks to the delicious flaws of memory and feeling whilst never sullying itself with literality or simple documentation.

Biography

Slow Dancing Society is Washington based musician/producer and nostalgist extraordinaire, Drew Sullivan. If ever there was an artist who truly expressed themselves in a way that defies everything music and art expects, and at times demands, then Slow Dancing Society would be that artist. With influences ranging from classic artists such as Brian Eno, Def Leppard, Tears For Fears, The Cure, Eddie Money, Pink Floyd, Prince, Spandeau Ballet and U2 to contemporary artists like Manual, Charles Webster, Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Rós, Hammock, Red House Painters and My Morning Jacket, one might begin to understand what they are in for when they hear something coming from Slow Dancing Society.

At times there is a pure abandonment of structure, continuity, consistancy and most importantly, hipness. If one were to compare the music of Slow Dancing Society to anything, it would be our memories and our past. Which is probably why one will experience such a sense of nostalgia and an overall coloring of sentimental values when they listen to the music. One cannot refute the notions that life is abstract, doesn’t always make sense, isn’t always beautiful (though at times the contrary) and never what it seems. So why then does the music have to be?

 

News

  • Slow Dancing Society Vinyl & Digital Debut Reissue Out Now!

    The Sound Of Lights When Dim (2017)We are proud to announce the official release of the reissue of The Sound of Lights When Dim, the acclaimed 2006 debut album by ambient artist Slow Dancing Society’s. The newly remastered version of the album is available in clear vinyl and digital formats, and is accompanied by a remix album featuring remixes of tracks from the original album by Echo Grid, Antonymes, Fr33dom People, Candlepark Stars, Startle the Heavens, Spenzar, Chloe March, and Monte Xannic.

    First released back in 2006, The Sound of Lights When Dim was one of Hidden Shoal’s most acclaimed early releases, landing on many ‘best of’ ambient lists. It introduced Drew Sullivan as an artist capable of imbuing minimal ambient compositions with enviable depth and emotion. While he has gone on to release another six full-length albums, his debut album still stands among his best work, unfolding as one long sumptuous ride towards a fading horizon.

    As with Eno’s finest moments and Sylvian’s ambient explorations, The Sound of Lights When Dim manages to dissolve its temporal markers and speak about moments removed from time. It talks to the delicious flaws of memory and feeling, while never sullying itself with literality or simple documentation. The fact that album track ‘A Song That Will Help You Remember to Forget’ has been streamed over 5 million times on Spotify speaks to the album’s lasting appeal.

    “a deeply affecting, consistently excellent effort of stunning tranquility and beautiful ambience, that demands repeated listening… Hidden Shoal have a masterpiece on their hands”Sputnik Music

    The vinyl (and accompanying digital release) is available now via BandCamp and the digital only version is available from all the usual online stores.

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  • Slow Dancing Society Debut Reissue – Vinyl Pre-orders & Single

    The Sound Of Lights When Dim (2017)We’re super excited to announce the reissue of ambient artist Slow Dancing Society’s acclaimed 2006 debut album, The Sound of Lights When Dim. This new remastered version is available in clear vinyl and digital formats, and is accompanied by a remix album featuring remixes of tracks from the original album by Echo Grid, Antonymes, Fr33dom People, Candlepark Stars, Startle the Heavens, Spenzar, Chloe March, and Monte Xannic. Pre-orders are available now and a special limited time free download single release featuring the album track ‘Radiance’ along with a stunning remix of the track by Antonymes is also available via BandCamp and SoundCloud.

    First released back in 2006, The Sound of Lights When Dim was one of Hidden Shoal’s most acclaimed early releases, landing on many ‘best of’ ambient lists. It introduced Drew Sullivan as an artist capable of imbuing minimal ambient compositions with enviable depth and emotion. While he has gone on to release another six full-length albums, his debut album still stands among his best work, unfolding as one long sumptuous ride towards a fading horizon.

    As with Eno’s finest moments and Sylvian’s ambient explorations, The Sound of Lights When Dim manages to dissolve its temporal markers and speak about moments removed from time. It talks to the delicious flaws of memory and feeling, while never sullying itself with literality or simple documentation. The fact that album track ‘A Song That Will Help You Remember to Forget’ has been streamed over 5 million times on Spotify speaks to the album’s lasting appeal.

    “a deeply affecting, consistently excellent effort of stunning tranquility and beautiful ambience, that demands repeated listening… Hidden Shoal have a masterpiece on their hands”Sputnik Music

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  • Slow Dancing Society in Secret Music Top 20

    The Wagers of Love and Their Songs from the Witching HourSlow Dancing Society‘s latest opus The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour has snagged the number 11 spot in the Secret Music Top 20 for November!

     

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  • Eat Your Friends: A Hidden Shoal 10th Anniversary Compilation

    Eat Your FriendsHidden Shoal is excited to end the celebration of its 10th year of existence with the new compilation album Eat Your Friends, comprising remixes and covers of Hidden Shoal artists, by Hidden Shoal artists. This freely downloadable album not only showcases the wealth of original music released through Hidden Shoal, but also the creative ingenuity and deft musical touch of the remixers and cover artists.

    From searing solar-flared adaptations to delicately reconstructed covers, deep space jam reworkings, and shimmering ambient tapestries, Eat Your Friends reimagines the Hidden Shoal discography in new and beautiful ways, playing to all the strengths of the roster’s dizzying array of talent.

    Includes remixes and covers by: Antonymes, Arc Lab, Glanko, Wayne Harriss, Liminal Drifter, Makee, Chloe March, Markus Mehr, Erik Nilsson, REW<<, Slow Dancing Society, Tin Manzano, Willem Gator, and Zealous Chang  of music by: Arc Lab, Brother Earth, Cheekbone, City of Satellites, Medard Fischer, Gilded, Glanko & Daniel Bailey, Kryshe, Memorybell, Erik Nilsson, perth, Slow Dancing Society, Tangled Star, Umpire, and Zealous Chang.

    Eat Your Friends is available now as a free download via Bandcamp and is also streamable via SoundCloud. Listen and then throw yourself into the wormhole as you explore the originals and more work by the remixers and cover artists.  For all the filmmakers, games designers and others in need of engaging music, don’t forget that all tracks in our catalogue are available for licensing (film, tv, games, compilations etc).

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  • Slow Dancing Society in Ambient Music Guide’s Best of 2016!

    The Wagers of Love and Their Songs from the Witching HourSlow Dancing Society‘s stunning release The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour has made the best albums of 2016 list at the awesome Ambient Music Guide! Here’s what they had to say about the album,

    This latest collection of emotional post-rock miniatures from Drew Sullivan aka Slow Dancing Society is by turns cinematic, tender and edgy. Sullivan continues to prod and explore the boundaries of his art and The Wagers Of Love finds his music as seductive as ever.” – Ambient Music Guide

    Check out the excellent list here and listen to the album here.

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  • New Slow Dancing Society Album Out Now!

    The Wagers of Love and Their Songs from the Witching HourHidden Shoal is excited to announce the official release of The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour, the stunning new album from American atmospherist Slow Dancing Society.

    On his seventh full-length release as Slow Dancing Society, Drew Sullivan’s sound continues to evolve. This 19-track epic meshes the warm, rich SDS sound with a new set of textures, bringing these musical snapshots into vivid definition. Trumpet and saxophone nestle amidst lyrical guitar lines, pulsing rhythms and expansive synths, creating an immersive and melancholy listen, tempered with rays of hope.

    Sullivan’s work is as cinematic as ever, yet here he’s scoring a more personal film. Profoundly influenced by Sullivan’s experience of becoming a father for the first time, the album took shape around the creation of single ‘The Color of Despair’. The track distilled his anxieties about his new life and responsibilities, and became ground zero for the album’s sound and production, with many other songs on the album evolving out of its instrumentation and feel. The ambient lyricism present here is a testament to the narrative possibilities of instrumental music, resulting in a strikingly complete-sounding album.

    The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour is available now  via iTunes and BandCamp. The first single from the album, ‘The Color of Despair’ is also available as a stream and free download. The full Slow Dancing Society catalogue is also available for licensing across film, tv, games and compilation so please contact us if you’re working on a project and you need that luscious, warm SDS sound then please do contact us.

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  • New Slow Dancing Society Single & Album Pre-Orders

    Slow Dancing SocietyHidden Shoal is excited to present ‘The Color of Despair‘, the new single from American ambient artist Slow Dancing Society. The song is lifted from the forthcoming album The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour, due for release on the 23rd of August 2016.

    On his seventh full-length release as Slow Dancing Society, Drew Sullivan’s sound continues to evolve. This 19-track epic meshes the warm, rich SDS sound with a new set of textures, bringing these musical snapshots into vivid definition. Trumpet and saxophone nestle amidst lyrical guitar lines, pulsing rhythms and expansive synths, creating an immersive and melancholy listen, tempered with rays of hope.

    Sullivan’s work is as cinematic as ever, yet here he’s scoring a more personal film. Profoundly influenced by Sullivan’s experience of becoming a father for the first time, the album took shape around the creation of single ‘The Color of Despair’. The track distilled his anxieties about his new life and responsibilities, and became ground zero for the album’s sound and production, with many other songs on the album evolving out of its instrumentation and feel. The ambient lyricism present here is a testament to the narrative possibilities of instrumental music, resulting in a strikingly complete-sounding album.

    ‘The Color of Despair’ is available now as a stream and free download. The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour is available for pre-order via iTunes and BandCamp before it’s release on 23rd August 2016.

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  • New Slow Dancing Society Album Out 23/8/16

    The Wagers of Love and Their Songs from the Witching HourHidden Shoal is excited to announce the forthcoming release of The Wagers Of Love And Their Songs From The Witching Hour, the new album by American ambient artist Slow Dancing Society. The album will see release on 23/8/16 preceded by the first single ‘The Color of Despair’ on 26/7/16. Check out the album teaser over at our YouTube channel.

    On his seventh full-length release as Slow Dancing Society, Drew Sullivan’s sound continues to evolve. This 19-track epic meshes the warm, rich SDS sound with a new set of textures, bringing these musical snapshots into vivid definition. Trumpet and saxophone nestle amidst lyrical guitar lines, pulsing rhythms and expansive synths, creating an immersive and melancholy listen, tempered with rays of hope.

    Sullivan’s work is as cinematic as ever, yet here he’s scoring a more personal film. Profoundly influenced by Sullivan’s experience of becoming a father for the first time, the album took shape around the creation of single ‘The Color of Despair’. The track distilled his anxieties about his new life and responsibilities, and became ground zero for the album’s sound and production, with many other songs on the album evolving out of its instrumentation and feel. The ambient lyricism present here is a testament to the narrative possibilities of instrumental music, resulting in a strikingly complete-sounding album.

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  • Hidden Shoal is 10!

    Hidden ShoalHidden Shoal is extremely excited to be celebrating its 10th birthday this month. It’s hard to believe that back in May 2006, Perth-based musicians Cam Merton, Stuart Medley and Malcolm Riddoch began Hidden Shoal Recordings as a means to put out releases by local artists. Tim Clarke, based in Melbourne, joined the team in 2007. Hidden Shoal has since gone on to become a much-loved independent label and publisher, releasing over 120 albums from a diverse range of international artists and licensing music from its catalogue across film, tv, web and compilation.

    Stay tuned for special anniversary announcements in the coming months!

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  • Slow Dancing Society Featured on Latest Cafe del Mar Release

    Slow Dancing SocietyWe’re excited to announce that yet another Hidden Shoal artist has been featured on a Cafe del Mar compilation. The gorgeous Slow Dancing Society track ‘Be There’ takes pride of place on Cafe del Mar’s newest compilation Ambience. The album also features work by the likes of Carbon Based Life Forms, Robert Rich, Chris Coco, Kodomo (as remixed by Loscil) and many more wonderful artists.

    Check out a trailer for the album here and buy the album on iTunes. Don’t forget to check out the sublime debut Slow Dancing Society album that ‘Be There’ is cut from, The Sound of Lights When Dim. It’s hard to believe that the album has it’s 10th anniversary at the end of this year!

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More News

Reviews

  • Slow Dancing Society “The Wagers of Love and Their Songs from the Witching Hour” Reviewed at Hypnagogue

    “No one can accuse Slow Dancing Society (Drew Sullivan) of skimping on the music on The Wagers of Love and Their Songs from the Witching Hour. Sullivan offers up a full 19 tracks over 74 minutes, packed with his signature sound, a warm, round, and lovingly echoed guitar style that has held my attention since I first heard it many albums ago. The Wagers of Love… also finds Sullivan taking this style into new places and shapes, lifting it out of its usual atmosphere of dreamy melancholy and crafting a full-band sound on several tracks–and it all works. There are places here where, even as a long-standing SDS fan, I find myself surprised at moments of rock power, bluesy shreds, and even a little bit of smooth jazz sax. “Greenwood Boulevard” is packed with all the familiar SDS essentials: that tone, a pizzicato accompaniment, tons of sweet soul, gritty riffs, and an indescribable background wash that’s a sure identifier of Sullivan’s sound. In spots he lays out trills that feel like nods to Mark Knopfler. He cranks up the blues on “Evening Falls,” carving those lines out of a starting source of misty drifts and the requisite melancholy. A hit of unexpected sax and drums, and you start to feel those blues creep in until Sullivan opens up a short, sweet, slow-hand solo. There are many of those out-of-nowhere moments to enjoy. There’s a spot in “Turning In” where a sudden burst of wah-loaded goodness drops some hefty hell, yeah potency. “Are You Still There” moves from its initial quiet and moody state to develop a smooth sense of casual funk. You’ll hear the guitar’s cool gangster lean when it slides in. Aside from these ear-catching moments, what comes through as clearly as always on a Slow Dancing Society release is the incredible depth of feeling. Sullivan is a very emotive player, finding something to say with every note that rings with an amazing sense of personal relevance. These are thoughts we’ve had, things we’ve been through, moments we’ve experienced, and it takes these notes to pull them up. Even the soulful heartbreak sax that closes everything out in the last moments of “Love Isn’t Love Until It’s Passed” manages to take what could be a bit of a cheesy smooth jazz sound and make it meaningful.

    There’s so much to listen to on The Wagers of Love…, and all of it’s good. Is 19 tracks a little exorbitant? Maybe, and some listeners may not prefer to take in so much of Sullivan’s signature style all at once–there is the risk of sameness. Personally, I can never get enough of this sound, and I think there’s enough variation and playing with the core idea to keep it from getting stale. Deep down, I think what you’re hearing is the sound of a talented musician really, really enjoying himself. I believe you’ll enjoy it, too. A lot.”

    Hypnagogue

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  • Slow Dancing Society ‘Radiance’ Reviewed at The Sunday Experience

    “A passing posting notifying us that Slow Dancing Society’s ‘the sound of lights when dim’ is shortly due for re-release with this 2006 gem being treated not only to a full remastering treatment but additionally arriving accompanied and extended by the inclusion of some very tasty remixes, one of which by Antonymes having, as it happens, hooked itself upon our lobes. This defrosting beauty peels away all daintily frost weaved and adored in a fragile statuesque tracing both tender and alluring whilst somewhat steeled and stilled in an ethereal toning that’s incubated in a wide eyed longing. ”

    The Sunday Experience

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  • “Eat Your Friends” Compilation Reviewed at DOA

    “Over almost a decade, Hidden Shoal records developed a reputation as a consistently innovative and experimental music label, giving to us music of remarkable qualities whether it was the instrumental excursions of Gilded, the blissed-out indie of My Majestic Star, the electronica of Marcus Mehr, the alt.folk stylings of Kramies – the HSR list of significant talents was a lengthy one. I say was, as in 2014 or thereabouts, the Hidden Shoal label underwent a reorganisation of sorts, and it began to seem that one of the more influential Australian record labels of the recent past was itself going into hiding. Perhaps so, although only to return refreshed, renewed, invigorated and with its varying artistic visions intact – the Eat Your Friends compilation proves that the Hidden Shoal label is properly with us again.

    One thing I’ve found when reviewing compilations is that not infrequently, when I put them into my music players, the tracks separate instead of remaining in their album folder, and that has happened with my copy of Eat Your Friends, encouraging me to view each of the tracks as a single release rather than view the album itself as a cohesive whole. Then there’s the fact that only some of its contributors are already known to me and so, ditching some of my preconceptions about what it’s going to sound like, I began listening to the 11 tracks in a random sequence, and prepared for the unexpected.

    Firstly, there’s singer/songwriter Erik Nilsson’s “Moksha Can Wait”, a song which electronic composer Marcus Mehr has taken and adapted to his subtly developed production sound, a track that begins almost inaudibly and builds to a staggering crescendo of soaring, roaring electronic sound and with Nilsson’s guitar and piano providing a counterpoint to Mehr’s swirling atmospherics. The ambient chill of City Of Satellites is given an added gloss by Tim Manzano, although I’m not so sure what he’s actually done with the track – it does sound a lot like the City Of Satellites I know from their Machine Is My Animal album, although as the track progresses and the rhythm and bass begin to disintegrate into a dubby conclusion it seems more apparent where Manzano has left his mark. Arc Lab’s “Through The Burning Glass” is remixed by Glanko, beginning with a club-level bassline before levelling into a noir tinged synth epic. And just when you thought the tracks on Eat Your Friends were entirely instrumentals, Rew perform a cover version of Umpire’s “Green Light District” and they do it with a vocal, alongside the strings and crashing cymbals and haltingly uncertain rhythms, a highlight of an album each of whose tracks is in one or another way remarkable.”

    DOA

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  • Slow Dancing Society “The Wagers of Love” Reviewed at Music Won’t Save You

    [Translated via Google. Read the original here.]

    A long title and an equally articulated nineteen songs facility marks the seventh work of Drew Sullivan, which coincides with the tenth anniversary of its activities under the alias Slow Dancing Society . In this broader context, which is well over the total duration of time, the Washington guitarist ranges from artist now sailed among the regulars soundscapes that combine atmospheric size and post-rock characters and consistent ramblings in less explored territories.

    Thus, compared with a starting light environmental mold, subsequently clocked by electronic and harmonic-rhythmic pulsations buildings pointing to emotional involvement, the work gradually reveals aspects of Sullivan’s personality so far remained on the margins of his artistic creation. This corresponds to a part of his old musical passions, directed to something decidedly more “classic” than realized in own; It happens so that the guitars are stripped naked of environmental reverbs to reveal languor suffused psychedelic seventies, that you are of the warm colors from the ancient rock flavor.

    The Past as passionate and one from Sullivan musician are melted in yet Slow Dancing Society trip, which rises to the occasion creative canon endemic nostalgia that expands from a concrete expressive modality sensations.

    Music Won’t Save You

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  • Slow Dancing Society Reviewed in Ambient Music Guide’s Best of 2016

    “This latest collection of emotional post-rock miniatures from Drew Sullivan aka Slow Dancing Society is by turns cinematic, tender and edgy. Sullivan continues to prod and explore the boundaries of his art and The Wagers Of Love finds his music as seductive as ever.”

    Ambient Music Guide

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  • Slow Dancing Society “The Wagers of Love and Their Songs From the Witching Hour” Reviewed at Textura

    “It’s preferable for an artist’s sound to evolve rather than remain too firmly rooted in one place for long, yet at the same time the hope is that that sound will evolve in artistically satisfying ways. We witness Drew Sullivan wrestling with that challenge on his seventh full-length release as Slow Dancing Society, (deep breath) The Wagers of Love and Their Songs From the Witching Hour.

    Certainly the signature elements of the Slow Dancing Society sound are present and accounted for. Sullivan’s material is as warm, textured, and resplendent as ever, so much so that referring to SDS as an ambient project once again feels woefully inadequate. Electric guitar textures and synthesizers collectively establish the kind of reverberant, expansive panoramas we’ve come to associate with the project, and representative settings such as “An Opening,” “Awakening,” and “Greenwood Boulevard” offer compelling arguments for Sullivan’s distinctive brand of immersive, ambient-electronic lyricism.

    But in broadening out the project’s sonic identity to include trumpet, saxophone, and drums, some lessening of clarity sets in, making for a less sharply defined presentation on a handful of the nineteen pieces. At such moments, the musical result becomes something less indelibly characteristic of the Slow Dancing Society sound, and consequently downtempo, drums-driven pieces like “The Sin We Live In” and “Evening Falls” start to seem like slightly more generic variants of the SDS sound—at least until that trademark electric guitar enters. Further to that, when a muted trumpet appears in “The Last Spring (An Ocean of Violets),” the material could pass for a Mark Isham production (circa 1988’s Castalia) as much as one by Sullivan (not that that’s wholly objectionable). At such moments, one hears him concertedly attempting to advance the project’s sound without losing its essence.

    Dramatic changes of another kind have recently entered into Sullivan’s life, with the Washington-based multi-instrumentalist apparently having become a father for the first time during the album’s development. Such a profound life-event induces both excitement and anxiety, feelings of which might be alluded to by the track titles “What The Day Brings” and “I’m Not Ready Yet.” In light of such a detail, “A Love Song From the Witching Hour” conjures the image of an adoring parent tending to a child in the middle of the night rather than the macabre meaning one might otherwise glean from such a title. A deeper awareness of life’s fragility and finitude also, however, might be seen to be evidenced by the titles “Don’t Turn to Dust, There is Still Time for Us” and “Evening Falls.”

    At nineteen tracks, the album has an inordinately large number of pieces, and the listener is, on the one hand, grateful for such largesse, especially when transitions are effected so fluidly. Yet such a gesture introduces its own problem, given that such a plenitude introduces some degree of unwieldiness. Put simply, it’s easier for the listener to gain a clear sense of an album’s shape and arc when the track total is in the, say, ten-song vicinity. In part, that’s attributable to the format in play: the CD presentation lacks sub-divisions, whereas a double-LP version would see the pieces collected into groupings of four or five, numbers that allow the listener to experience them as coherent stand-alone groupings. (The effect has its psychological parallel, too, with respect to memory, as the mnemonic strategy “chunking” has shown that an individual can more easily recall sixteen numbers when they’re treated as four-number sub-groups.) If growing pains are discernible on The Wagers of Love and Their Songs From the Witching Hour, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that they go hand-in-hand with a project’s evolution. No one, Sullivan included, would presumably opt for staying in one place instead.

    Textura

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  • “Long Range Transmissions” Reviewed at Tome To The Weather Machine

    “I am an unabashed Hidden Shoal fan. The Australian label has been pumping out releases of lush, cinematic aspirations of ambient and neo-classical artists for a better part of it’s existence that, at times, is overcome by its eclectic output ranging from conspiracy-punks to 90’s slowcore revivalists to every deriviation of weirdos (Australian and otherwise) in between. Long Distance Transmissions, however, is a surprisingly cohesive collection of sprawling ambient, electro-acoustic, post-classical and just about ever derivation (Australian and otherwise) of lushly produced, slightly melancholic, wordless music in between. Highlights include Markus Mehr’s Tim Hecker-meets-Heinz Riegler meditative distorted synth composition “Hubble, the chopped and glitched electro-acoustic number by Kryshe, the minor key minimalist techno of Cheekbone and the emotional heft of the 80’s nostalgia of Slow Dancing Society’s bubbling arpeggios and soundtrack-worthy dynamics. It makes sense that Hidden Shoal also exists as a licensing company, many of these compositions, if not already, seem to soundtrack some deeply resonant scenes in films (never made).”

    Tome To The Weather Machine

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  • “Long Range Transmissions” Hidden Shoal Compilation Album

    “Happened across this as we were turning it in for the night, a new name your price downloadable compilation by Australia’s finest purveyors of elegantly drawn dream pop Hidden Shoals. Entitled ‘long range transmissions’ it features a gathering of talents, some familiar – Antonymes, Markus Mehr, Slow Dancing Society et al along with some not so such as gilded and cheekbone. However what attracted us apart from the obvious as ever high quality seductive ambience tonalities literally peeling from the grooves was a delightful little thing from Elisa Luu entitled ‘chromatic sigh’. A breathlessly beautiful slice of porcelain noir classicism, an all too brief heavenly visitation, the slow shift into focus of the sound of a celestial calling emerging into the open to bathe all in the tingling shower of warming radiance, an out of body astral gliding odyssey which for a moment utterly transfixes its delicately balanced and perfectly poised gaze to fix and fill you with ethereal enchantment. And so to something familiar, regular visitors to these pages will be all too aware of our affection for Chloe March who here with ‘old tree, mon coeur’ doesn’t disappoint in the slightest and into the bargain offers up this sweetly mesmerising rustic ghost light, a fairy dust sprayed dream draped lost in the moment beguiling bouquet that shyly treads in the kind of amorphous star twinkled worlds of Musetta albeit as though aided and abetted by a soiree of siren sighs from a chill tripped Laetita and Mary from Stereolab.”

    - The Sunday Experience

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  • “Lost In Transmissions” Compilation Reviewed at Wake The Deaf

    “You might recognise Hidden Shoal from our piece on Olive Skinned, Silver Tongued Sirens Sing Swan Songs, the latest album from REW<<. The label has recently released Long Range Transmissions, the first in a series of themed compilations which showcase the ambient/neo-classical acts in their catalogue. It’s the perfect place to introduce yourself to a diverse and interesting collective of musicians.

    While the collection comes from a particular genre, there is still room for much variation across the thirteen tracks. Antonymes and Kryshe favour fragile, graceful piano, Cheekbone push a sci-fi inspired electronica and Chloe March creates a lush chamber pop. Todd Tobias evokes a mixture of shimmering bliss and nostalgia, his track ‘Nan Madol’ playing like a super-cinematic missing number from the Twin Peaks soundtrack, while Stockholm’s Erik Nilsson’s gently tropical ‘Drawing/Dreaming’ feels like watching the sun set into the sea on the last night of your holiday. Other highlights include the goosebump-inducing melodrama of Slow Dancing Society’s ‘Pull’, Elisa Luu’s ethereal ‘Chromatic Sigh’ and the aching melancholy of closing track ‘Empty Cradles’ by Sleeping Me.”

    Wake The Deaf

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  • Slow Dancing Society “The Cogent Sea” in Ambient Music Guide Best of 2014

    “Another outstanding hybrid of electronica and ambient rock from one from the best modern exponents of a style that some also might call (ahem) shoegaze or (cough) post-rock. This is American composer Drew Sullivan’s sixth release as Slow Dancing Society, once again coming to us from Australian-based indie label Hidden Shoal Recordings. I’ve been a fan of his beautiful melancholy since his debut album The Sound Of Lights When Dim (2006). Not content to just create a chilled-out mood – which he does very well – his best music also tugs on an emotional level with remarkable depth.

    The Cogent Sea is 12 carefully structured miniatures, ranging from muted, somber washes of synthetic sound to fully arranged rock instrumentals that are very slow and very beautiful. While Sullivan’s personal sound is still very much in evidence, it’s great to hear the artist still nudging ahead with fresh ideas. The muted fast-spinning pulses on “Congency” and “Rising Dark; the morphing, ricocheting loops on “Come The Morning Light”; these sound like new elements in his music. Of course there’s still lots of electric guitar – whether muted, shimmering chords or piercing, reverberating solos. And the wide variety of synthesised tones and strings is still used sparingly. With Slow Dancing Society less is more, space has meaning, and silence is golden.

    Slow Dancing Society averages one album every two years nowadays, which makes him a good deal less prolific than some of his contemporaries in this age of digital downloads and self-releasing. So let’s celebrate quality over quantity, because The Cogent Sea stands easily alongside his best work. It’s not a bad introduction either, though Under The Sodium Lights (2010) or his debut album would make equally good choices.”

    - Ambient Music Guide

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Licensing

Slow Dancing Society’s music is  available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.

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