Ikons (Download CDR)
13 tracks / 64.15 mins
Play Sample: 56K Dialup Broadband
Download Sample: 500K 1.5Mb
(Excerpt from track(s) 'Ikon')
This album shows a very different side to Michael’s work. It is like nothing we have reviewed by him before. The tracks are grouped into two sections ‘Ephemera’ and ‘Inscape’. You might have heard the expression ‘It is a game of two halves’; well this is an album of two radically different styles. The first, ‘Ephemera’ is really a collection of rather contemporary sounding Piano pieces. The music is stripped down to its most basic, completely uncluttered. Raw emotion I suppose. I assume (but am not certain) that the piano is a digital one but even if it is this first section of the album isn’t really Electronic Music. ‘Inscape’ on the other hand most certainly is Electronic Music but of the more experimental end of the spectrum. Looking at the ‘Ephemera’ collection first. There is a long windy fade into ‘On a Drop of Dew’. Piano notes mimic the sound and feel of falling water beautifully, hanging in the air creating the subtlest of melodies which solidifies as more notes are added. It is a short track which says all it needs to then fades away. ‘Intimations of Spring’ is similar but features a more complex melody.
‘A Limpet Dreams of Flying’ and ‘The Limpet Awakens’ feature a little more synth but are again based around the piano. This time things are a little more abstract and moody. Things get even stranger for ‘A Starless Lake of Blue’ where piano chords full of natural reverb create a melody that is hard to come to grips with but is strangely compelling nevertheless. Easier melodies to latch on to come with ‘To a Child Dancing in the Wind’ and ‘Light of Grace’ Again there is loads of natural reverb but also quite a bit of synth backing. ‘Fire Wreath and Spangled Ice’ has a very light airy feel. It is also quite romantic and about as far away from the sort of stuff we usually sell at SMD as it is possible to get. ‘The Illusion of Distance’ is all rather dreamy, whimsical even. The last four tracks comprise the ‘Inscape’ section of the album. Even though less in number than the tracks on the opening section they are longer in length so represent over half the total album.
‘Dissolving Sun’ is initially so quiet that it can hardly be heard. A very deep drone slowly becomes apparent and slowly evolves. It is as if waves of energy are being emitted across the vastness of space, getting stronger as we get closer to the source. Half heard voices then seem to be heard deep in the mix but it is impossible to make them out. It’s as if they are trapped, in some sort of Hell, trying to get out. Gradually the mood lightens a little. In some ways it reminded me of ‘Towards the unknown Region’. The fade out takes just as long as the fade in. ‘Eternal Alchemy’ is even more extreme in that I am certain that the first and last 20 seconds or so are actually silence! Out of the silence emerges looped percussion as though we are walking through massed curtains of bamboo chimes. Dark drones sigh like spectres momentarily appearing in our dimension to then disappear back to where they came. ‘Ikon’ brings a return of the piano, of sorts, but this time it sounds rather treated with individual notes echoing in a lovely warm sea of electronics. ‘Back to the Viewless Hand’ starts with a single drone that seems to get louder as if a plane is slowly getting closer. This is used as a base over which various other tones shift and mix with each other. It’s all rather peaceful stuff. (DL)
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