Ever since Dan Manning fastened together both organic and synthetic instruments to create music as Reduction Plan, he has also created a nameless void between its most human and mechanical elements. On his first lo-fi excursions, early standouts such as “An Act of Self-Preservation” dabbled in this moody isolation with sparse minimalism and simple but sturdy songwriting. Later, on 2016’s Child of Light EP, he branched by working with a band and creating sonic experiments. Despite the additional human heat to that music, it still sounded like Manning was singing from far away in some sunless land.
On Somewhere, Reduction Plan takes one step further into the abyss. Starting abruptly with “Without An End”, Manning is slips deeper into this exile, his mind running away over a robotic drum machine beat and turbulent layers of angular reverb. While past releases stylishly used reverb to create desolate atmosphere, an increase in production values slightly colorizes the band’s monochromatic sheen and better handles the near shoegaze level amount of guitarwork.
In addition to headier arrangements, the songs on Somewhere are stronger and more distinct than what has come before. Manning has always had a distinguished croon, but never has it sounded so melodious in its sorrow. On mid-album highlight “Julia” (and one of Reduction Plan’s best songs to date), he weaves a hypnotic vocal like an additional instrument in a wall of sound. Later, he channels the same aesthetics through a rare major key respite on probable new fan favorite “On Your Own” (a rework from 2015’s Paradise LP). Of course, on a Reduction Plan album, its apparent happiness is fleeting as the remainder of the record returns to its regular isolated gloom.
Overall, Somewhere is Reduction Plan’s most fully realized release to date. Looking back at the band’s earliest releases, it seems like the logical continuation of a journey throughout this strange somewhere that Manning has traversed. In other ways, it feels like Reduction Plan’s proper debut. What is less apparent though, is where Reduction Plan will go next when they return from this strange place, if they ever return at all.
Listen to Somewhere by Reduction Plan below: