In Brief: Clara Engel / Chelidon Frame/ Hainbach/ ioflow.

“Songs for Leona Carrington” is a five track cdr with booklet released by the fine Wist Rec label in an edition of 120 copies. According to the label it is “a biographical release based on the esoteric universe of Surrealist painter and writer” with music by Engel alongside text by Carrington (1917-2011) and watercolor interpretations of her work by Manfred Naescher. The release features musicians such as Paul Kolinski (drums), Mitchell Girio (bass), Bryan W Bray (Electric Guitar), James Beardmore (Theremin).

Engels music has been described as “folk noir“, “sung poetry” and “minimalist holy blues from another galaxy“. The tracks contained on these two albums are indeed minimal sometimes just relying on guitar and vocals. Her voice is easily identifiable as emotive, but without the over the top histrionics that some singers can stray into. Her guitar can have a blues post-rock feel in one track and be more shimmering and ambient based with tremolo in others. With “Sketches…” she works well with collaborators who add to the songs without filling out the tracks too much. There is still a nice minimalistic approach akin to slow core bands like (early period) Low which can be heard on tracks like “Anubeth’s Song (Burn Eternally)” and “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds”.

“Vigils” is a deeply personal album that was recorded during the brief time of knowing that Engel’s father Isaac was terminally ill and his passing. Recording these improvisational pieces as well as a cover of Hank Williams Sr’s “Angel of Death”.

With “Vigils” the playing is more pensive with a certain amount of delicacy and restraint felt, which is understandable to what Engel was going through at the time. This is best shown by the track “Saffron” There is a more ambient feel to the tracks with a certain amount of light in the music, but it also feels under a cloak of some sort. The emotion in Engels voice comes through in the Hank Williams Sr cover, which with the lyrical content I would imagine would have been hard to record. That the release is a collection of improvised recordings done one night, it does not come across that way to the listener.

Chelidon Frame is Italian sound artist and guitarist Alessio Premoli from Milan. He works with drones, found objects, short wave radio signals, prepared guitars and looped soundscapes. His companion releases on the Manyfeetunder label are seven tracks that are the result of guitar loop improvisations that are then reworked to give a sense of depth and rhythm with the use of the glitches and imperfections that arose in the recording process.

“Vol 1” opens up with “Granularity 0.0” – an aquatic sounding piece of layered scattered guitar snippets, but come “Granularity 1” long shimmering drones are joined with short snippets of scratchy sounds and then various styles of guitar sounds like twanging, almost classic guitar virtuoso playing and loops of playing alongside chimes and percussive sounds. “Granularity 2” builds on the previous pieces with a slight new age feel underneath multiple layers of guitar pieces. “Granularity 3” sees more traditional guitar drone pieces constructed by various loops of different guitar styles, before the glitches enter the sounds with a xylophone or hand help wood instrument sound.

The three tracks on “Volume 2” are a continuation for “Vol 1″ with the music cut from the same cloth. You can see where the post production has worked out constructing this tracks in a sort of kaleidoscopic fashion. The three tracks are all quite different, but share some elements and styles.”Granularity 4” sees the loop work used with a bit more restraint than previously. Sometimes you guess the feeling that the album is one big track that has been divided up into sections.

Both albums are Free Download.

The following two releases are from Japan’s Gohan Tape label from Germany’s Hainbach (who has appeared on Spring Break Tapes, Limited Interest and Little Mary) and ioflow aka US artist Joshua Saddler who after twenty years of playing piano started improvising minimal delicate pieces incorporating field recordings, effects and computer processing.

Hainbach, whose music The Wire called “A Hell of a Trip” seems to create dark music with organic and synthetic means fusing them together in a bleak landscape such as the post apocalyptic opener “A New Moon”, before veering into retro futurist breakbeats and synth on “Breaxit”. “Clubbs” sounds like a demented music you would possibly hear in a nightclub which starts off shaky and wobbly before sort of coming together with dubby, squelchy and industrial sounds. The music changes tone again with “Gestalten” and its mix of layered short electronic ripple like sections of electronic decay and detritus that pulses and throbs. “Faultlines” and “Vines” are tracks featuring broken electronics, with “Faultlines” feeling the more experimental of the two purely because of the ambience that floats under the misfiring electronics.

“We Will Stay” brings in ultra minimalist soft electronics that has been largely absent from the album before the title track takes us back to the broken beats, splattering electronics and demented night club sounds – which vaguely hark back to Slava Tsukerman’s “Liquid Sky” soundtrack. Hainbach concludes with the distorted “I Want to Fade Like Magnetic Tape, disappearing in a Wash of Noise and Fantastic Distortion” which sounds like a mix of dug up nostalgia and futuristic washes of synth.

The cassette has since sold out but digital is still available.

Ioflow has appeared on compilations like “Sequence 4”, “Sequence 5” (both Future Sequence) and “Discovery 1” (Soft Recordings).

For “Spring” he fuses field recordings and solo piano alongside Rhodes, E-bow, Modular Synth and Reverb pedals to create sparse, but not boring, minimal and delicate pieces. “Slow Trails” fuses these elements and instruments together to create a piece that fans of Taylor Deupree or The Green Kingdom should appreciate.

Piano takes the lead alongside field recordings of birds and water on “Tumbling through the Shadows” with the piano striking a balance in the timbre of its sounds from delicate through to darker more forceful.

“Sun-Dappled Stillness” could be the apt description for the album as a whole, let alone the title of one track. The music is appropriately sparse with the slightest haunting flute like sound over low volume field recordings and minimal piano playing. The level of sparseness actually draws the listener in to engage with all the elements and be mindful of what is going on.

The two tracks “Ripples//Lakesounds” and “Lines//Lakesounds” appear as almost bookends despite the letters appearance four songs from the end. Both track feature the same constituent parts, but its the first half of the title that hints at the nature of the music. Naturally “Ripples” would indicate faster playing than the more controlled “Lines” and that is what you get, both joined by field recordings. Personally speaking, I lean more towards the “Ripples” part of the equation.

“The Greening” strikes the balance of the use of field recordings and piano and could easily be a Modern Classical piece if Saddler deemed so.

With a musician whose work is based on twenty years of playing an instrument it would be quite easy to fall into a category such as Modern Classical. Because of the restraint shown and the strength of field recordings, his music feels more Ambient/Environmental/ Composer than just one strict genre.


Simeon Walker – Coda (video) + tour dates.

Simeon Walker whose 2017 album “Mono” was featured here has announced a new live video for the closing track of said album “Coda” as well as European tour dates, including two piano day (March 29) dates.

The dates are as follows:

29/03 – Atmospherics – Newcastle (Piano Day – Matinee Show)

29/03 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds (Piano Day)

04/04 – House Concert – Essen

05/04 – House Concert – Cologne

06/04 – Alter Güterbahnhof – Meppen

06/04 – Konvoi Studios Düsseldorf

08/04 – In Between Books – Bratislava

10/04 – Sofar Sounds – Vienna

11/04 – Felsenkeller – Frankfurt

12/04 – Sofar Sound – Krakow

You can find more information here.

Sound in Silence x 4: Panoptique Electrical/ Test Card/ Sweeney/ A Lily.

Keeping up to date with releases that come my way is getting daunting now (and I am nowhere near the level of submissions of the bigger better known blogs like Headphone Commute, Stationary Travels and A Closer Listen get). The choice I see it is to review only select things and be choosy or to reduce the size of the reviews to try to cover more music. I have opted to do the latter.

With this review I will mention four of the previous Sound in Silence releases (with their most recent Gray Acres and Yndi Halda releases to come later).

Panoptique Electrical is the solo project of Jason Sweeney with “Quiet Ecology”beinh his third release on the Sound in Silence label after last year’s highly acclaimed “Disappearing Music for Face” and the debut album, back in 2015 of collaboration with Richard Adams of Hood and The Declining Winter, under the name Great Panoptique Winter. According to the label the album is “centered on gentle piano melodies and a background full of atmospheric textures and swelling cello drones. “Quiet Ecology” balances between Modern Classical and Ambient soundscapes, in the vein of both Ambient pioneers like Brian Eno and Harold Budd and artist like Max Richter and A Winged Victory For The Sullen.”

The album opens with “The World is so Loud” which fuses minimalist repetitive piano motifs effectively alongside long undulating and ultimately fulfilling drones. The dark stabs of piano that end each section reverberate with weight to them that is opposite to the drones that cascade around it. The drones would be enough to sustain another artists work by themselves. There is a feeling of lightness with a hint of melancholy while the piano tone is rather morose.

“A Vow of Silence” welcomes the listener with multilayered drones of ominous quality that vibrate with a short thick frequency while a cello drone cuts in and out, sometimes just barely in the background. The feeling of the drones is of like an amplified recording of natural sounds of the earth has been manipulated to a more consistent soundscape.

“Footfalls” the piano makes a welcome return with a balanced sound of lighter and darker keys and rather than the repetitiveness of the opener, a more lyrical approach to the music. With piano based music it is sometimes hard to gleam a different feel or mood to the music due to the timbre of the instrument. The music on this particular piece cones across very filmic, in my mind, to visualize a night drive in blinding rain desperate to get somewhere or leave somewhere. The mood over the seven plus minutes of the piece is consistent and unadorned, leaving a naked piece of music to reveal itself.

“Upon a Map” creates a string section drone that cuts across the music with sharp sections of cello slashing across a dark filigree of drones which give the track more of the feel and (almost) rhythm.

“A Place With Trees” minimal keys with long reverberations open this piece and give it weight when filling out the sound. The long drones created are matched by the delicate melodies also created. The feeling of the piece as if Sweeney has sat down and just started playing with an open mind, but with an idea of an intended sound as well. The music feels very relaxed, the pace is consistent, with a slight feeling of things breaking down as the piece goes on and the playing becomes darker in mood.

“In Between Buildings” mote strident piano playing sets the tone for this track that musically sits mid range between the more melancholic and light and airy playing. There is definitely a meditative feel with the use of building repetition. Five minutes into the piece the tone changes with a slight detour into the darker sounds of the instrument which cases this constant rumble of keys vibrating to give the piece a thick underbelly. This is a part that you would expect a soaring string section to elevate it and push the music further out into the stratosfear, but restraint is shown in not doing something obvious.

“Quiet Ecology” is quiet a stunning work that adds another name into the mix of fine piano musicians.

Test Card is the solo project of Vancouver based Lee Nicholson also known in the past as Electrohome and as a member of Formula One, Domestic4 and Future Peasents. He has released on labels such as Kooky, Fierce Panda, Liquefaction and others. “Redfussion” is his second full-length album after last years highly acclaimed debut album “Start Up Close Down” on the japanese Symbolic Interaction label. “Blending perfectly elements of dreamy Ambient, Minimal Post Rock and Lo-Fi Electronica, “Redfussion is a lovely release highly recommended for devotees of Labradford, 1 Mile North, The Durutti Column and Helios.”

Test Card is a new name for me. The music covers the glitchy but organic strains of electronica meets ambience. Opener “Remembering Redfussion” has squelchy beats, ambience, warped electronics, guitar parts to fuse together creating a mishap mash of different sound sources that work together in creating a relaxed bit of electronica.

“Those Long Dusks of Summer” bass tones , synth ambience, delicate Fripp & Eno-esque guitars, phasing synthesizers and the most minimal of beats to create a retro inspired piece of gentle ambient/ electronica with sci-fi touches.

“Another Early Night” with an opener sound similar to that of Gary Numan’s “Cars” the track welcomes ambient pulses alongside glitches and snatches of guitar and other sounds. Squelches loop to form a sort of percussive rhythm while dub like sound techniques are introduced added to the retro sounds of this synth (slightly reminiscent of the Dr Who theme) to create a laid back piece.

“Old Enough to Drink Sherry” sees the guitar come to fore surrounded by swirling ambience and mini retro drum machine beats. The sound is light even with all the elements included the customary retro synths fluttering in and out. The music doesn’t force its way through to the listener, rather being laid back for the listener to engage with.

“The Sheep Field is Now An Estate” warm tape looped like ambience is built upon with other lighter drones, tiny fragments of guitar that briefly shine alongside a slightly darker toned guitar and drones which start to take a more forceful presence.

“Be Home In Time For Tea” Wah guitar sets this track apart immediately alongside other guitar parts, sci-fi touches, truncated beats and sounds to give an ambient meets sci fi meets surf music feel. The guitars that occupy different plains in the track are the feature instrument of the piece. They create the melodies, rhythm and also are used as a textural device.

“My Favorite Conker Tree” uses loops that sound like theremin to warp in and out while guitars come in in snatches of sound. Backwards clipped recordings are used effectively in the nostalgic sense. There is a pastoral laid back feel to the track which you can pin on the guitars and the loops.

“Ice Cream Day Dream” is a brief snatch of retro synth progression that is over almost as it just began.

“We Have Helium Balloons” a layered section of crooning and choral wordless vocals are paired with minimal crisp beats, dubby bass lines, twangy guitar lines and snatches of electronics. The track works well in that it doesn’t over do in the elements and feels more constructed than some of the others.

“I feel so Adrone” phasing guitar is joined by cold ambience that changes around in the depth of the track as does the guitar parts. The ambience takes over this time with a warmer freer tone before fading into the background with a bass section added. Each section that comes in retreats back to the background while the previous elements returns to the fore. It’s almost like a treadmill with the movements of the instruments coming around cyclically. The warm ambience tends to win the battle of the elements as it remains for the majority of the track.

Unfortunately this album didn’t grab me. There is nothing wrong with it, there are parts that are nice such as “We Have Helium Balloons”, but as a whole body of work it wasn’t for me. However, other reviewers have liked it and if you like that hazy nostalgic ambient meets electronica theme it might be right for you.

Taking a detour from his Panoptique Electrical pseudonym Jason Sweeney also records under the simple name of Sweeney.

“With help of his collaborators Jed Palmer and Zoe Barry who provide Cello, Accordian, String Arrangements, Guitars and Bass, Sweeney creates a peaceful and emotional album full of beautiful textures and sonic landscapes. Centered on his distinctive voice and melodic piano lines, “Middle Ages” magnificently merges songwriting, Modern Classical and Ambient sounds with minimal beats and field recordings.”

“Night at Spirit Lake” sees Sweeney’s Sylvian-esque fragile vocals over piano welcomed in by a string section drone. The vocals have a faltering emotional touch to them which is enhanced by the cinematic nature of the music with drones heightening this feeling. You get the feeling of mood being a strong consideration in the construction of the piece.

“End of Men” musically the tone is lighter than the opener with a more lightly haunting feel. Lyrically the tine is dark but the vocals don’t over do it. Subtle bass guitar motifs lead soaring sections of strings that bring in the haunted stark feeling inspired by the lyrics.

“45” swirling piano and cello accompany vocals that are dripping in despair and are faltering in their delivery. Metallic shaking percussive sound introduces a more intense section with percussive piano as well as staccato cello that raise the intensity of the music, but also change the tone to like dark European folk music.

“Oh Goddess” fuses piano, voice, synths and cello. The Sylvian-esque quality of Sweeney’s vocals is more noticeable here with the track also having a retro feel to it. The cello provides the melody to the track, before the string section turns percussive with its insistent rhythms alongside the piano.

“Man of Dreams” delicate piano lines with soft string drones accompany Sweeney as he croons about a lover and his features. The music while not bathed in light or darkness seems to float in between these two dimensions. The vocals are passionate without getting whispery or dramatic. Overall the track in a way, shows restraint.

“When He Went Away” light strings cut through with both a melodic and drone touch to them before retro pulsing synths and a bass drum beat welcome acoustic guitar and vocals. The vocals have a touch of fragility which is followed by a medieval sounding string section which further takes the track in another direction. Accordion adds a flourish of sound that adds to the piece.

“True Love” piano,vocals and cello entwine together with the strings complimenting the piano rhythms as they are both light and delicate. The cello is gentle with its playing, the piano sounds like fingers rolling over the keys with slight weight placed on the keys. The vocals vary from breathy to faltering to more strident delivery.

“Middle Ages” cinematic strings and drones mirror each other with light drones, gongs taking the music into the next direction alongside field recordings of someone walking on hard wood floors and birdsong. Synth ambience permeates the piece for the second half of its duration providing a counterpoint to the opening string section.

“None but the Lonely Girl” piano, pastoral sounding acoustic guitar, vocals, strings take the song in a medieval feel with the guitars having a lute like quality to them. They mirror the piano and with the accordion revel in the old feeling of the music.

“Burial” while the track has a bit of an ominous feel to it, the music constructed of piano and cello alongside vocals doesn’t tend to dwell in the darkness. It does have its moments, but because of the tone in the vocals the music is still removes from melancholy. It is almost like a track for looking back and reminiscing.

The music on this particular album is definite different to that under Sweeney’s Panoptique Electrical moniker which is understandable why it’s just under his surname. There is a strong Medieval torch song feel to the album. I have always struggled with works that include vocals, which I feel limits my connections with the lyrics contained. Of you however, are fans of singers such as David Sylvian, Scott Walker or Anohni, then you will like this.

A Lily is the solo project of James Vella, better known as a member of instrumental Post Rock band Yndi Halda (who recently released the “A Sun-coloured Shaker” single on Sound in Silence). “Ten Drones on Cassette”, A Lily’s third full-length album and first since 2011, consists of ten cinematic Ambient and Minimalist Drone tracks originally released on ten cassette in editions of one copy each. According to the label: “It was recorded using various instruments, including Guitar, Voice, Organ, Clarinet, Brass and many others, and treated with a multitude of effects and acoustic processing, resulting in a sublime collection of dreamy soundscapes and hypnotic textures.”

Each track is named after a person that inspired the track and took up the side of a cassette. For this release the tracks are edited.

“Hildur” its hard to work out the instrumentation on such a piece, but what ever they are they are layered together creating a kaleidoscope like track of multi layered sounds that comes across at time stabs of sound as the loops roll around. There is a central drone sound to it as the other sound are mixed up on layers that are constantly changing color tone and texture.

“Selassee” a glacial and choral drone stretches out traversing territory as it winds its way out slowly changing its texture and pitch. There are two distinct levels to the piece with a darker more ominous drone being saddled with a whistle like harsher, but lighter drone.

“Konstantin” a submerged murky drone that has a humming quality to it is matched with a more textured multi layered one that sonically occupies a different territory and one that if you were looking at on a graphic equalizer you would notice the undulations and changes in its tone. The track is quite hypnotic.

“Soloman and Adama” following on from the previous track we have another intertwined layered drone. This track starts with a kaleidoscope drone which is joined by another string section like long pastoral drone which comes in at intervals and elevates the original drone.

“Enrico” two sounds emerge with a whistling like feedback drone and a throat singing like deep drone. The two of them trade-off for intensity in the track with each occupying their own sphere, but the feedback glacial like one being more noticeable due to the sometimes harsher tones.

“Miles” shrill siren like drones and a wind squall drone are joined by a third louder and more soaring drone that travels from ear to ear in clockwise fashion. The layers of sound are covered from deep to high with a constant dark, heavy keeping the same territory throughout.

“Jas” takes us into storm filled hills as the wind rushes through creating a howling noise which teaches its crescendo just shy of two minutes into the track before remaining with that intensity for the majority of the rest of the track. The drones have a certain ‘color’ to them rather than just being harsh noise.

“Layla” takes the storm of before and hands it to a power electronics musician for a remix – well, probably not, but it does infer the intensity of the piece. It doesn’t fully go into noise territory but the drones are at that level were it could collapse into white noise.

“Zadie” takes the dark ambient approach mixed with some static as if it’s a transmission from an isolated uninhabited place. There is a dry arid feel to the drones with the static giving a feel of interruption in the music.

“Didem” is a pure ambient drone with haunting tones that sound like horns. There is little distortion or noise and they unfurl in sections with some sounding very crystal clear synths and others having an orchestral feel to them. This changes when dark washes of heavy guitar drones take the track in a different direction with arching drones before returning to a similar territory as the beginning. This is probably the standout track.

If you are into pure drone music that is largely unadorned this could be the album for you. With the CD purchase you also get a download coupon for the original ten tracks that clock in between 37 and 50 minutes each. At time of publishing there were only a dozen copies remaining.

Theo Alexander – Hammer Frenzy.

Previously seen on this blog with his release of last year “Palliative” Prague based British musician Theo Alexander returns with “Broken Access” due out on April 27 via Luau Recs.

According to Alexander the first single “Hammer Party” “combines the rhythmic drive of minimalism combined with unconventional production techniques that have developed over previous releases such as “The Black Bunny” (1631 Recordings) and “Points of Decay” (Blank Editions). The result is a piece as close to My Bloody Valentine as it is to Philip Glass or John Adams, with a strong melodic sensibility as well as a thick, raw tone”.

If this is just a taste of what is to come, then the album will be a great listen. You can check out “Hammer Frenzy” and pre-order the album bellow.

Winterlight – The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days.

“The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days” is the second album from Winterlight following on from 2011’s “Hope Dies Last” which was a solo release from Plymouth musician Tim Ingham and was a distillation of years absorbing post punk and shoegaze music to create something of his own which he describes a “Post Pop”. Prior to this album he released an album under the Lightsway moniker. Leading up to the release of this album (the first with daughter Isabel on bass) a single as released featuring the track “I Can’t Start Being Happy For Feeling Sad” which came with two exclusive non album tracks.

According to the label: ” This new album is the culmination of nearly seven years of on and off creative spurts, false starts and second guesses reflecting the turmoil hinted at in the album’s title. Yet those that follow Winterlight know Tim’s being making music pretty much all along and releasing occasional demos via his Soundcloud….. “The Longest Sleep Through The Darkest Days” has all the Winterlight earmarks: divine organs, thoughtfully constructed drums, the occasional electronic flourish and, Oh… those immaculately soaring guitars! While Ingham considers Winterlight to be post-pop, and for the most part the duo still bring those meoldies to the table in spades, there are some unique changes happening under the surface in the album’s bookends that move beyond simple ear candy. This shows the Inghams are starting to take risks while staying true to the original vision of the project.”

“Calm then a Storm” clearly noticeable as soon as the album starts off is how sonically lush it is. There is a definite down tempo feel, but the track is saturated with lush waves of synth drones that have long streams of ambience. Ripples of fractured sound break through the thick fabric of drones allowing the light airy ambience break through which then takes over the track once the drum machine kicks in. The impression is like coming through a particularly heavy situation and seeing light at the end of the tunnel which in a way is the reverse of the title. The synths pulse a rhythm over which soaring ambience layers swarm around leaving a cloudy ending that seems to take the listener to the tail end of the storm.

“I Can’t Start Being Happy For Feeling Sad” the album’s preceding single starts with a mournful church like organ with fractured beats leading into a section that opens up with light guitar work that reminds me of elements of Hammock alongside Isabel’s slightly dirty bass rumble, before retro futuristic synth explorations lead into the next opening of guitar entwined ambience. The music manages to traverse genres like IDM, ambience and shoegaze, but yet is not beholden to one. The way the guitars and synths soar is uplifting under which piano lines reveal a delightful melody. Towards the end of the track the church organ returns in loops over which the fractured beats are layered.

“Risen Again” a darker stormy ambient tone is at odds with a melodic drone and almost submerged keys which starts up the nostalgia like melody alongside snatches of beats. The music easily moves into bright territory with shimmering sounds of affected guitar and radiating out ambience. Subtle nuances introduce new sections such as the addition of a more beat oriented transition that focuses the track away from being purely ambient. The piece then changes once more retaining some of the earlier elements such as the clipped beats, but not having the same color to it. The piece once more goes widescreen with its Shoegaze influences coming to the fore.

“Stretch Out And Away I Go” chiming jangly guitars with electronic pulse like percussion is joined by small truncated synth stabs before the track goes full-blown IDM with the scattered beats venturing into a synth dominated section before the guitars start ringing in once more. The multiple layers of the track from beats to guitars, bass, synth give the feeling of a complete painted canvas. The music doesnt suffocate or be too saturated, it just is filled with an ever-changing palate of sound , texture and tempo. For a title of the album such as it is you would get an impression of bleakness, but that is far from the reality of the music contained in the album.

“Hinterland” a glacial windswept sound opens the track like a walk on a freezing morning where the sun has just started to rise, there is frost on the grass and a chill in the air. Slow beats and bass brings forth a retro sounding horn like synth section from which sound ripples out like a pebble thrown into a lake. The music reaches out bathing the listener much like the sun that is starting to heat up the day. The ambient synths have a strong vocal feel which give it a choral sound. There are break downs that divide the track into sections which help the track build and create moods.

“The Closer We Come” synth progressions cloaked in an oscillating ambience provide the intro for the most pop orientated track on the album. Propulsive percussion, fluid bass lines, strong sections of ambience and techno like keyboards take the track in an ’80s direction led by the keyboards and the very subtle, but essential bass which steers he track and gives its identity. The track changes towards the end with it becoming a pure synth track with waves of ambience, multiple layers of different repetitive synth progressions and more very subtle bass.

“The Longest Sleep” comes in two versions. The first is an eleven and a half-minute epic and the second, a download bonus, clocks in at just under twenty-eight minutes in length. For the shorter version darker drones with spindly dubby guitar sounds form a layer for glassine keys, shimmering guitar lines and drones that sound a collection of sound layers traveling at different speeds and thickness. Glacial synths start to overwhelm the sound with thick stabs of coldness as the guitar starts to twang before it almost all fades out to silence with drone elements beginning the re-build. They start slowly and quietly building up in intensity and texture with a very airy feeling as if you are being transported places. To balance the feeling of lightness there is a darker almost throat singing type drone that with the top lighter drones forms a section in which the remaining drones fit into. The track reaches further and further out with its ambience and the intensity goes up a notch to when the drum machine kicks in the track has reached its apex. The music soars with a great speed of rumbling and loud ambience which is under pinned by the metronomic beat. The track is intent in taking the music and the listener to the precipice, but just as it’s about to fall of the cliff, the beats and intensity vanish alongside the darker edge to leave just a lush rich ambient outro. For the longer version there are some changes in the music other than obviously the length. The intensity feels more prolonged, extra elements of guitar added and the ambient break down leads into a later re-birth. Personally, while I like both, my preference is towards the shorter version as it feels like a distillation of the elements and while it lasts over eleven minutes it has a certain degree of immediacy to it.

Don’t let the promo photo below, the back story to the album’s genesis or the title of the album fool you. This is not some music which evokes despair or misery. Quite the opposite, it evokes joy and happiness. The amount of light that shines from the tracks contained herein is second to none. The music is rich, lush and full with a clarity that even these middle-aged affected ears can’t help but notice. Comparisons have been made to Ulrich Schnauss, which to a degree are accurate, but Winterlight are able to hold their own. Recommended.

Tomorrow We Sail – The Shadows.

Tomorrow We Sail is a six piece Leeds based band who are part of the Gizeh Records stable and whose members appear / have appeared in other Gizeh groups such as A-Sun Amissa, Glissando and Farewell Poetry. The band is stylistically described as Post Rock / Folk / Alternative which perfectly suits their music.

This their second album follows on from 2014’s “For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight”, which the label states: “this new work combines perfectly the soaring atmospheres, gorgeously intertwined vocal harmonies and dramatic shifts in tone and dynamics that have come to characterise Tomorrow We Sail’s sound. Yet, there is a new sense of urgency here. Very much an album of its time. “The Shadows” draws upon the same sense of connection to both the past and present that defined its precursor, but features storytelling that is even more defiant and deeply personal.”

“Side by Side” opens with fluid guitar lines of a slightly distant quality before the sound is filled with drums, violin, bass and piano creating a quality of Post Rock that is reminiscent of the almost nautical quality of a group like Rachels. The intensity picks up when the band veer into a loud section of crashing instruments before the breakdown that lets the music reach out and expand. The mood changes due to the effect of the long thin guitar arcs, violin and almost martial drumming. The band are adept at creating mood and the mix allows for multiple layers of sounds cascading around, but not colliding. Vocally with the use of group dynamics (all members with the exception of drummer/percussionist Alistair Hill are credited with vocals), they bring an emphasis to the lyrics but also a quality of folk music singing , which is why the label describe them musically as Post Rock / Alternative / Folk.

“Home Fires” delicately melodic tones from glockenspiel are paired with minimal bass and guitar with the male/female joint vocals of Tim Hay and Ella Blake which have a combination of rich tones and fragility. The music moves into a section where the violin leads the track in the folk direction that would not be as obvious if just the electric instruments remained. The violin, along with the pace of the track which is slow, steady and melancholic allows for build ups and additional instrumentation such as the harmonium to join the sound palate. There is a sense of an alt country feel in the guitar tones in spots, while also being quite spindly in other moments. The vocals are what underpins this track especially the double tracking and their interaction with the instruments determines the style of music. Hay’s vocals on particular have a very tortured romantic feel about them.

“The Shadows” the musical narrative changes with a full descent into Post Rock that has strong Ambient touches. The guitars ring and soar, the drums maintain a stuttered beat, Blake’s vocals change their tone into an angelic form. The music has removed any elements of folk previously heard and is about filling the sound with mood, texture, subtlety and emotion. The guitars are there not to create a rhythm but to create a feel of something ascending that is augmented by the keyboards and underpinned by the glockenspiel which adds a level of innocence to the track.

“Winifred” stark piano is paired with the combined vocals of Hay’s David Sylvian-esque vocals and Blake’s fragile style lending the track a morose feel. With a subtle breathy backing vocal added there are only four elements used in the construction of the track and these elements are rather effective in filling the sound and creating a mood that feels almost like a eulogy for someone lost.

“The Ghost Of John Maynard Keynes” slowly building rumbling, howling drones and feedback create tension and usher in vocals dripping with despair before a tremolo infused based heavy alt rock groove kicks in. The use of tremolo, drones and synchs lends the track an alt country meets post rock feel. The guitar cuts through the sound like a knife and rather than being a rhythmic feature is more about texture and color. The bass and drums are what holds the rhythm and under pins the track. The track veers onto a sea shanty sort of feel with the defiant group vocals. The vocals ate able to fuse together well as the vocals all occupy different spheres with the different timbres of the vocals. At just under seven minutes the track manages to cover a fair amount of ground and have several movements.

“To Sleep” atmospheric windswept ambient drones swirl skyward alongside piano and Blake’s torch song style fragile vocals. Angela Chan’s string sections add an orchestral feel to the track which opens it up while complimenting the vocals and the piano sections. As the vocal soars they help in bringing forth the emotion in Blake’s voice.

“The Golden Elevator” the epic track on the album begins with dark guitar drones which demonstrate the track’s melody, Hammond organ, strings and Hay’s earnest singing. The drones are deep in the back ground, but not so far as to as be ignored. In the lead up to the full band coming in the strings start making their effect, mining a territory coveted by modern classical and post rock. When the band kicks in the music holds these qualities, but also has a dimly lit smoky feel to the music, but when the music reaches its crescendo the band sound like an electric folk band on fire. The vocals throughout the track range from quietly broken, to crooning, to falsetto to extremely hope filled and expansive. The music mirrors these territories perfectly and provides a complete listening experience.

Having been in other bands and creating music for several years now, you can see “The Shadows” as a distillation of their learned craft. The tracks are well constructed with nothing superfluous, with each element selected to compliment an other. The variation throughout the album and indeed within certain tracks, gives the listener depth and variety to enjoy. If you are looking for a thoroughly thought out and considered album you would do well checking out “The Shadows”.

Tomorrow We Sail