Departure Street: “Our Songs Become Ashes” LP (2023)

Our Songs Become Ashes is a seven-track album by Allan J Kimmel, a solo guitarist who performs as Departure Street. It was released on February 24th, 2023 by Veinte 33 Records.

‘Drifting through empty space’ opens the album with atmospheric guitars looping while other reverb-drenched guitars solo in such a way as to make me picture a solitary raptor gliding high above the clouds, pollution, and noise of the rat-race down below. Long shimmering and droning notes linger and loop amongst other looping guitars so as to create layers of texture in which there is not necessarily a single or discernible melody, but rather waves upon waves of harmony that all carry a portion of the melody in various directions. This imbues the song with a sense or feeling of sky-like empty space through which the listener may drift untroubled.

A melancholy and looping acoustic guitar riff opens ‘This is going to be forever’. Kimmel elaborates on top of this loop with an absolutely aching and soul-stirring string of melodies that blend with it and seem as if they’re grasping to answer its question, but without ever landing on a sufficient answer, and in their ignorance their attempted answers become over-burdened and slightly frantic as the song wears on. In the end, that opening riff goes unanswered and the remaining guitars wander into dissipation.

The title track sounds significantly sparser and the walls and waves of reverb and reversed loops and reflective droning tones are somewhat stripped back. There’s an extremely nostalgic and otherworldly timbre to the main melody here. A subtly warbling bass notes droning offsets the higher-pitched frequencies. Ambient sounds and guitar harmonics adds variety and makes this song a journey full of equally beautiful and haunting surprises. ‘Our songs become ashes’ couldn’t be a more fitting title for such a track and album as this.

Kimmel walks the fine line between sorrowful longing and sublime beauty. His technical expertise on the guitar is matched with an earnest emotional expressiveness that draws the listener further and further into a womb of serene and welcome sadness. Close your eyes for this one and you will be transported like ashes rising up into the sky.

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