Hanging off the side of the main event, an anteroom is a small room that seems to embody never-ending suspense. Like a deathly-silent waiting room at the dentist, or hallway piled high with coats, the whole point of anteroom is that it exists in order to lead to something else. It’s a kind of uneventful purgatory, or – as How To Dress Well recently put it – “a passage into a void of pain in which no human scream can be heard, that will decompose your body in an instant. It can be a great place that allows us to connect to the unknown safely. Or it can be the actual worst.”
Set in this same eternal holding-ground, How To Dress Well’s fifth album is less a conventional than record; it’s one sprawling, continuous piece. Dwelling in a skittish type of electronica, which shuffles and glitches, ‘The Anteroom’ sees producer Tom Krell grappling with a difficult two years, and the “cosmic loneliness” that he felt throughout. What this record lacks in immediate momentum, it quietly makes up for with vivid bursts of melody from the ether.
The softness of ‘The Anteroom’ is occasionally punctuated in surprising ways. ‘Nonkilling 6 | Hunger’, which features contributions from the American poet Li Young-Lee, blooms like ink traversing a bit of soggy paper, waves of pulsing house giving way to minimal introspection. After years of striving towards poppier accessibility – which culminated in his overly-polished last record, 2016’s ‘Care’ – the follow up sees How To Dress Well stepping into a more experimental world. The results sounds a little like American ambient producer Grouper on a 5am nightbus, and suits Krell well.