New music from Joel Shanahan (Golden Donna, Auscultation, etc) is always good news, and Euphoria Journal is no exception. Did You Find My Letter? is a fuzzy dreamworld of entangled guitar shards and sticky bass drones. This is a zone I’m not used to Shanahan exploring, but the world he creates on Did You Find My Letter? Is distinct and memorable.
One of the main themes across Did You Find My Letter? Is the thick, heavenly fuzz courtesy of Mantic’s ‘Vitriol’ pedal. Muddy textures are leaden, held up by well-defined architecture, solid sequences crackling within and holding the saturated, gauzy drifts. Crystalline patterns emerge from silver clouds on the incredible “Racing Thought,” glam-infused guitar solos aiming directly at the sun with inauspicious intentions. Tension rises and Shanahan is hell-bent on bringing everything down with him, the heartwrenching drones heavier than lead. It’s a counterpoint to the weightless, and at times jubilant, “Reaching For You.” Emotions are in constant motion throughout Did You Find My Letter? the mania of grief and euphoria.
Even in the harsh noise zones of “Count Me Out” and “Void Unfulfilled,” Shanahan is determined to break through the drudgery. Caustic bass howl scorches the earth on the former, finding surprise respite with moments of squalid feedback, while the latter claws and scowls, flanging blackened space debris into the gaping maw of nothingness. It’s a brainripper that leaves no space for hiding.
These stinging tracks are a reminder that even as we move forward and deal with our trauma, there’s always a piece of it left. Transcendent waves grind through the walls on “Never Learn,” the rocky remnants falling off glistening guitar ephemera that hovers like a ghost of destruction. Shanahan’s viscous bass passages are the glue throughout Did You Find My Letter? simultaneously holding it together and ripping it apart. Life is messy and even if we make out of one scarred maze, there are a million others inviting us in. Euphoria Journal documents the cycle while pushing skyward tones to break it at the same time.
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