‘Rispah’, the second album from The Invisible begins beautifully with ‘A Particle of Love’ in which warm grainy breaths of pulsing synth envelops the sound of a traditional spiritual sang at the funeral of singer-guitarist Dave Okumu’s mother. This melding of the human and electronic, finding beauty amongst sadness is one of the great strengths of ‘Rispah’. Throughout the album, Okumu’s voice weaves in and out of the mix, an ensemble member with the similarly treated bass and drums, no effort is made to define the edges of where live playing ends and studio manipulation begins.
There is a beguiling fluidity to ‘Rispah’. ‘Wings’ ebbs and flows around wonderfully emotive peaks and troughs. ‘Lifeline’ bounces pinging beats around guitar and bass interplay. On ‘What Happened’, melodic guitar lines are bathed in soft radioactive crackle and twinkling keyboards.
That same fluidity can, at times, create a flatness of tone that, for me, could have been enlivened by some sharper dynamics. This is, however, a trifling comment compared to Okumu’s achievement in creating something as thoughtful and moving as ‘Rispah’ from a sensation as muffling as grief. Sadness is used here as tool of transformation, a material for movement rather than a cause of inaction.
Deft, subtle touches are plentiful; ‘The Wall’ builds to a peak of degraded Boards of Canada drone. ‘What Happened’ is a lullaby of hums and sighs, Okumu’s voice rising above guitar notes like raindrops.
“You only have this life to express yourself, the only thing that matters is to mean what you say,” sings Okumu on ‘The Wall’, with the clarity afforded by the death of a loved one. With ‘Rispah’, The Invisible have given us an expression of love and warmth, flush with meaning.