The latest release from P.G. Six, a multi-instrumentalist attached to iconic indie label Drag City, breaks what has been his 12-year hiatus from making music. ‘Murmurs and Whispers,’ comprised of 9 songs, is an album of great sparsity – perhaps contradictory to expectation, the artist ending his silence with a selection of subtle arrangements. However, though they may be quiet and subdued in sound, P.G. Six’s compositions speak loudly and from the heart.

Touching upon themes of loss, love and loneliness, ‘Murmurs and Whispers’ is the soul of the artist rendered in audio form. Backed by luscious, rural instrumentation – harps, recorders and flutes abound – alongside such strange bedfellows as synths, harpsichords and wailing electric guitar feedback, the voice of P.G. Six – real name Patrick Gubler – sings with melancholic meaning; a low, rumbling teller of stories poignant and personal, a painter of peaceful yet disquieted pictures.

The record commences with the track Leaves, whose evocative lyricism imitates the light layers of plucked harp and harpsichord notes, specifically the feeling of tranquillity they inspire: Gubler describes the scene of ‘distant springs that float ‘til they all do combine,’ later introducing a fittingly romantic narrative in the form of the line, ‘our love will surely last ‘til the leaves have blown all away’.

As pleasant a lyric that may strike you as initially, ‘Murmurs and Whispers’ swiftly taps into an underlying darkness that really leaves you mulling over Gubler’s inclusion of the adverb ‘surely’. The two songs that succeed Leaves quickly alert us to this inevitability.

Second track I Have Known Love, for example, pulls the listener in with its lulling harp melody and Gubler’s comforting tone. But, just as we feel ourselves succumbing to complacency, the crushing sentence ‘there is no fight left in me now,’ emphasised by haunting harmonies and with reference to the song’s title…it pushes us back to shore.

Even more macabre than the former, Tell Me Death sees Gubler tragically list off the relatives that ‘death took’ from him before asking its personification the heart-rendering question, ‘why am I the fortunate one?’ Moreover, the spare and spacious music that lingers behind such striking lyrics only acts to reinforce the overwhelming sense of isolation they connote.

Despite his delving into viscerally affecting themes, P.G. Six’s most recent offering makes sure not to get mired in its own heaviness. Tracks like Just Begun, whose homely acoustic guitar that thrums from under the contented, if ominous, line ‘when my time runs out, I’ll walk into the night’ and the windswept, atmospheric instrumental piece Meandering add to ‘Murmurs and Whispers’ a depth that sets it out as – rather than just the musician’s equivalent of a forlorn diary entry – an enrapturing experience that stimulates the senses (beyond that of simply hearing).

Listening to this record, I found myself drifting away into P.G. Six’s soundscapes: floating in the distorted feedback of I Have A House, lost amidst I Don’t Want To Be Free’s crashing waves and fluid trumpets. If you decide to lean in and hear Patrick Gubler’s ‘Murmurs and Whispers,’ you will surely be transfixed – perhaps, as I felt, even transported – by the music.

P.G. Six: Murmurs and Whispers – Out 1st September (Drag City)

Six ” I Have a House” (Official Music Video) – YouTube