Angus Watt’s disappointment that no large waterfowl enthusiasts have accidentally stumbled across his music in pursuit of greater flocks is hopefully an indication of the inspiration for his solo moniker. That, and perhaps the quiet, reassuring sounds of a still lake are what he is looking to transpose onto an urban grid in his third release, monophobia.
Intending to create something low-key, the member of Victoria’s wept (formerly known as ACAB Rocky) has collected seven songs notable for their sparse instrumentation and inward-facing lyrics. There’s plenty of doubt here, and a vague sense that these questions—like their answers—are spiraling out of Watt’s control.
While the introductory notes on “frost” feel like the casual entrance of an impromptu party solo, opening lines, “Circling the apartment block, with the intent of a letter gone postal,” play with imagery and meaning. “You watch yourself curl up/ Into another pair of bones/ And you feel home,” he continues, stripping comfort of its romance as the notes chime blissfully onward.
The chill of being shut out creeps into “windowpane,” Watt’s serene voice masking the isolation of the song as the strings creak poetically alongside him. “knots” is far less opaque, while “halves” brings the building self-recrimination to the foreground, asking “Did I go too far this time?” as a conscientious lover leaves.
The scratching of the steel reemerges in “sleep debt,” appropriately toned down, and conveying exhaustion equally from the quiet strain of the strings and Watt’s worn out voice. “china doll” is just as full of fragility and resilience. “empty frame” rounds out the quiet close, a final dreamy escape that strums both Watt and the listener into oblivion.
Living up to its name, Big Goose’s monophobia is both the quiet solo effort Watt envisioned it to be, and the oft-fearful result of getting exactly what you want. The guitar is beautifully unencumbered, blind to the loneliness seeping its way into all that space.
Top Track: “sleep debt”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)