City Depths is uncomfortable, but not creepy. A listener won’t find themselves petrified, but if one does as Miller suggests and listen to this via headphones ‘while exploring the night,’ there’s going to be an awful lot of looking back over one’s shoulder and twitchy glances to things seen out of the corner of the eye.
The mood is low-key - opening track Stillness borrows a lot from Boards of Canada - but Miller doesn’t work in just one tempo, thankfully. Nor is it all synths, either. Side B’s first track, Midnight is a little more uptempo and exciting, with Miller varying between synth and piano work to make music which has a loveliness to mellow the discomfort.
Side A sets the mood ably, but it’s Side B of the City Depths cassette that really takes the idea of ‘a sense of uncertainty and haunting fear’ under the peaceful surface. Intruder might be the apex. For those who enjoyed Disasterpeace’s score for It Follows, the 90 seconds of that track, as well as the similar cut, Void, will give listeners a lot onto which they can latch.
For those who enjoyed WASP, Miller’s companion piece to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, this is another level. Unencumbered by an already-extant thematic tone, Bryce Miller is able on City Depths to really stretch out and explore quiet avenues and darkened alleys, creating an album of real atmospheric reach.
CITY DEPTHS / COMPOSER: BRYCE MILLER / LABEL: SPUN OUT OF CONTROL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW