This is massively skilled ambient melancholia from a Mr. S. O'Neill, about whom I know basically nothing. I don't know who he is or where he's from, or even if he's a he, for that matter. For the sake of this review, let's assume for the hell of it that the artist's gender is male. I know that this is his first full length, and for it he's chosen one of the more impossible-to-remember names as his moniker. When I Know You Will Too is a pretty uninspired name for musical output, but the music itself is truly, unstoppably gorgeous. The utterly lonesome and elegiac mood on this modest album makes it one of the most beguiling and attractive debuts I've heard in quite a while.
O'Neill begins the album with a Eno-friendly track called "Mter". The sound is at once gentle and remarkable, and a steady drone carries the album along through tracks like "Yr3" and "Bel Fin". Each new song embraces a slightly varying sonic topography, from long drawn-out bells to deliquescent piano tones.
Those familiar with the Kranky roster might find themselves most eager to hear this work, and most fond of its sound. There's a lot of ground left uncovered in the minimal, super ambient style that When I Know You Will Too has chosen to muck around in. Stars of the Lid have given us some of the more narcoleptic elements of post-Eno ambience, and Labradford have kicked in the odd drum beat, while Doldrums have tried to give us their own freewheeling flying saucer attack of low-key guitar wash. I would desperately want to see When I Know You Will Too fit somewhere in the canon of aesthetic numbness that gives this style its contemporary feel. O'Neill's music has the coldness of a post-funeral party, where no one is quite sure whether to cry or sink into mute despair, or simply be done with it and kill themselves. His music, if you're looking for a laugh, is going to ruin your entire week. But on a rainy, chilly afternoon, the sympathy and seriousness will give you solace, to know that someone else out there feels almost as terrible as you.
Whether he continues to record under this awkward name, or goes the obvious route, following this excellent piece with a record under his (maybe her) own name, O'Neill is without question an artist to watch. He won't be unknown for long.