At just four tracks, Weakness Is A Great Thing is a concise addition to the Missing Organs discography. But the breadth of its sonic approach – melding brittle ambient electronica with warped world music and post-club melancholia – offers up a rewarding chiaroscuro when offset against the doomy shadows of last year’s Hard Walls. Of course, pulling together such a diverse textural palette across a relatively short runtime could have resulted in an untidy mess. That it hasn’t is testament to the restraint inherent in the Missing Organs’ aesthetic – but there’s something clever going on, too. Weakness Is A Great Thing’s four tracks are linked by a repeating sonic motif, threaded through each piece like words in a stick of seaside rock, binding together compositions that stretch out in many different directions. Whether this is wholly intentional or totally accidental, or something inbetween, I have no idea. In fact, I may be imagining the entire thing. But, for me, anyway, this sequence of gently rising and falling notes – marked out by the piano in Duet For Wind & Rain, echoed by the gradually-crumbling pipe in Professer, taken up by the synth in Writer and finally revisited as a kind of ghost melody in the rain-drenched skank of Second Interview – morphs these compositions from stand-alone cuts into constituent parts of a cohesive whole.
This, I think, also helps explain why Weakness Is A Great Thing is freighted with a more nuanced emotional charge than previous Missing Organs outings. The weighty soundscapes of Hard Walls were impressive for their monolithic heft. But Weakness Is A Great Thing works on a more human scale, even if the mood is mostly less than euphoric. In Professer, the beautifully fragile melodies curling around the opening five or so minutes like an early-morning temple mist are subsumed into a crushing wave that squishes those delicate forms into a steel-tough electronic cage. Nature crushed by the wheels of industry? Perhaps, but those melodic tendrils never really go away, instead seeping out from underneath and around the edges of the digital frame into a strange cyborg hybrid. And even when it fades away almost completely at the end of the track, the pipe returns towards the end of Writer, following seven or so minutes of unfurling synth business, like flowers peeking through the cracks in the concrete.
And this is where the substance of this short album links into its somewhat counter-intuitive title. After all, what are cracks but weaknesses? Weaknesses that may show up the instability of something that previously seemed so strong. The cracks in everything, where the light gets in. Missing Organs is reclaiming the idea of weakness, using it to peck holes in contemporary ideas of what constitutes strength – toxic masculinity, petty nationalism and big-man political posturing for starters. Weakness here is a subversive attitude, highlighting the emptiness inherent in these positions, opening up fissures that allow other voices to be heard, upsetting the binaries and ushering pluralism, tolerance and understanding back into the world. And that certainly is a good thing.