LA’s Angelo De Augustine releases his debut album, Spirals Of Silence, on November 18th, 2014, the day after his twenty-third birthday.
Yestereday, Stereogum debuted the lead single, “How Past Begins,” saying that De Augustine “writes and performs with an assurance that belies his quivering delivery, so much so that he seems capable of leveling a city block with nothing but a weary sigh.”
Stark, humble, and full of emotion, Spirals of Silence is the debut album of Angelo De Augustine. “The title, to me, means to be caught in the endless loop of silence, where you very much desire to live in the world, but are too afraid to be the one to initiate the first step, and are therefore sent back to the beginning.” It’s akin to the process many artists experience as they debate whether or not to share their art with others: they want to communicate but simultaneously fear they might not strike a chord with anyone.
Not that there’s much of chance of that with De Augustine. This 22-year-old has been making a quiet impact on the music scene of his native L.A. and beyond, all with power of his spare, effective guitar playing and his distinctive warbling vocals. Even without having released a formal album and without the benefit of the Internet-led hype cycle, he has been able to quiet clubs full of people, converting them into fans.
The title of De Augustine’s first full-length speaks to the inner struggle he’s feeling to both get this music into the ears of people while also wanting to retreat from those same listeners. This halting, hesitant feeling resonates through the songs on Spirals. Recorded in his bedroom using an old reel-to-reel recorder, these plaintive songs feel as though you’re sharing a secret or are reading the diary of a close friend.
De Augustine comes from a musical family, born to a pair of working musicians and raised on tour and in the studio. It took him until his early teens, however, to finally see the joy in playing music on his own and, through plenty of homegrown experimentation, hit upon the haunting sound that makes up Spirals.
“My mom would sing special, handed-down, family songs to me when I was young, and always let me be myself and experiment, giving me the freedom to do whatever I wanted creatively,” the 22-year-old singer/songwriter says. “She was also a musician and because I saw her doing that, I felt that I had a chance too.”
And though friends of his parents gave him some guitar lessons, he took what basic information he was given and found his own way around the instrument.
“Truthfully, I don’t know exactly what I am doing like other musicians, who have a whole language of their own. But from spending years of experimenting and playing a lot, I have been able to carve out my own little songs,” he says.
There are signposts that one can see within the misty sound of these 11 songs—the fingerpicked guitar work of Nick Drake, the openhearted lyrics and singed falsetto of Elliott Smith, the haunted sonics of Lou Barlow’s early solo recordings—but De Augustine proves to be far more than the sum of those parts. He is a keen arranger, adding little touches (the ghostly piano on “Old Hope,” the light drones of “It’s A Life,” the little stabs of muted guitar on “How Past Begins”) and knowing just when to double up a guitar or vocal part for maximum impact. The shimmery hiss of the analog reel-to-reel machine only adds to the truth and spirit of this singular work.
From its quaintly hand-drawn artwork to the delicately rendered music found within, Spirals of Silence feels like each disc was constructed for the listener alone, as unique and heartfelt as a thoughtfully compiled mixtape or a letter written in longhand. These are the gifts that we will remember.
Spirals Of Silence by Angelo De Augustine is out November 18th, 2014.