Ian Hawgood and Danny Norbury – Faintly Recollected / Ian Hawgood and Giulio Aldinucci – Consequence Shadows.

After a long time as friends and in ways as collaborators (Black Elk and Kinder Scout) and with Danny contributing to a number of Home Normal releases, the debut collaboration is “Faintly Recollected”.

According to the press release / text by P*dis/Inpartmaint’s Shinsaku Osaku:“Faintly Recollected” is originally a single long track (33 minutes) that has been edited by Stefano Guzzetti thereafter. Danny played cello and Ian played and processed Hokema Sansula kalimba ambient tones as well as looping and editing on the recordings onto reels. The resulting album is minimal, but also elegant. The graceful Cello by Danny (which he also provides for numerous albums by their friends The Boats) is as epic as it slowly opens up the deep darkness as reflected through the perfectly matching imagery of the cover photo of Eirik Holmøyvik.

“I” a distant minimal drone opens the album as well as a swirling cymbal -like sound before Norbury’s mournful cello comes in dripping melancholic lines in long flowing, constructed with a minimalist fashion with a sense of creating a mood that is rich, but fragile and not over bearing. The control of which leads into “II” where the layers of cello increase and drones take center space with the original one still remaining, frosty in the background. The cello holds deep sound like the weight of it makes it feel it will collapse. What sounds like a wall of cymbals fills the background alongside long form drones that possess a deep but not noisy, nor melodic sound. The drones make the track and offer the transition from “II” to “III” with a bridge of cello.

“III” welcomes the melodic chime of kalimba to the mix. This gives the counterpoint to the cymbal sound and cello and adds a melody that was largely absent previously. The interplay between kalimba and cello offers a difference in the tones as while the cello can offer a more melancholic or mournful tone of deep thought, the kalimba offers a sense of innocence and joy. Towards the end of the track the kalimba fades leaving drones and low-level cello to lead us into “IV” where layered cello fill the distance as the drone enters with more presence bring the cellos front a centre before they proceed to ebb and flow in both intensity and their place in the track – sometimes retreating, at other times being the dominant sound source. The cello’s sound is heartbreaking and leads the return of the kalimba at the opening of “V” initially giving over the sound fully to the kalimba, before rising once again. Both instruments exude fragile qualities, with the cello’s richness of sound being utilized in a narrative fashion.

With “VI” the cello is being largely used as the sole instrument with loops and sections of it overlapping which changes the tone of the instrument and the sound is a mixture of dronal and melancholic qualities. You get the feeling of ‘going through something’ be it a situation, a mood, something deeply personal and internalized. This is what the cello brings to the work as it fundamentally, for me, is a tool to express human emotion. Warm tones from drones emerge at the end and lead us into the final section, “VII”. This last section returns the cello front and center amongst the swirling cacophony behind it. As the cacophony retreats the layered cellos sound, in my mind, changing in tone to one of a more hopeful one. There is a sharp despairing section over which a radiant and joyful sounding piece floats and gives the musical version of a narrative transition from grief to acceptance. After a brief reprise of the cacophony, the cello slowly fades to silence.

Giulio Aldinucci has been gaining a name for his fine solo works and collaborations with the likes of Pleq and Francesco Giannico. “Consequence Shadows” seems him team up with label boss and friend Ian Hawgood bringing forth their friendship started with “Tarsia” (Nomadic Kids Republic).

According to the label: “‘Consequence Shadows’ was initially termed ‘snow sketches’ as they shared files back and forth from Giulio’s home in Italy and Ian’s homes in Japan, the UK and now Poland in this time. This working name for each piece (each noted as parts 1 to 5 in their correspondence) has lent heavily to the overall feel, highlighting the imbued sense of fragility in the subtle melodies as they evolve through the field recorded white-noise frequencies throughout. Whilst ‘Consequence Shadows’ will no doubt be (rightly) marked as an ambient work, the pieces stretch genre definitions as they converse with submerged beats, freckled frequencies, guitar echoes , direct vocal studies and sustained piano chords, among many other directions.”

“Embarking Shadows” the first thing you notice is the depth of sound. From the electrical wire like drones deep in the sound scape to the field recordings in the foreground, there is a wealth of space and territory for sounds to inhabit. After the initial interplay of slightly noisy vibrating drones, the track fills up with a shimmering and vibrating section of drones that occupy at least two to three different levels of sound. Higher drones occupy the more pure ambient section, while slightly darker drones give off a slightly menacing and moody feeling and then there is the complimentary one in the middle that fills out the sound with a mixture of the sounds. The drones don’t remain the same as they change texture, sound and weight. Additional environmental like sounds enter the mix as the drones, intertwining by now have become a living organism and are creating this track of ebbs and flows.

“Only Microns” granular electronics that sounds like manipulated sound from radio or field recordings combined with a swarm of crickets opens up to a fractured and pulsing melody. Micro beats enter in, with more of a feeling of an element of sound rather than a traditional beat moving the track forward. A small piano melody fights to be heard as drones and static start swirling around eventually removing that early swarm feel and focusing on the other elements. No particular sound dominates with a fairly consistent sonic feel to the track, but just as the track comes to an end the importance of the melody and the granular electronics become pronounced.

“The Wasted Consequence” what sound like tape loops being manipulated on reverse with a kaleidoscopic sound and incidental recordings is joined by wispy drones and electronic tones. The drones hold form which is counterpoint to the other sounds which appear more random in their construction. There is a wind-swept feel to the drones like they are flowing cleanly and as the track progresses, their looped form gives a more melodious touch to the track and becomes the dominant focus of the track. The drones feel cut up in portions a feature which is brought through in other parts of the track like the broken electronics that join in the background. Other elements such as piano lines, snippets of vocals appear with the tiny fragments of piano and the way it reverberates out having a nice effect on the music. I guess you could call this ambient music, but I feel it would be a limiting description as there ate many elements in there from experimental and electronic styles. Its more for me, a meditative piece that works predominantly with loops, but constructed in a way as not to be overly rigid and with a wealth of melody.

“Other Ashes” takes us into epic territory coming in at just under eighteen minutes. Street sounding field recordings, granular sounds and long wirey drones that oscillate under the glitches and field recordings, build up a gritty sound scape. The drones stake out more territory as a humming feel joins in and despite the field recordings, there is a feeling of desolation. The drones remind me of Alan Lamb’s work with electrical wire on rural farming properties in that they have a sound similar to the cracking and pulsing electrical wire sounds. As the track progresses the drones become more forceful and distorted while the field recordings remain at the same level inhabiting their own parcel of sound. Humming drones and their distorted partners make up the bulk of the sound with the textures changing ever so slightly and rotating in their emphasis in the track. Pulsing, vibrating drones with a melodic underbelly take over with a feeling of short fast sections layered and layered. After a few minutes the drones fade and are replaced by a degraded section that has the melodic edge of before but with a static top end that morphs into a melodic glitch section of rolling tones that build up and break down, becoming more consistent in rhythm as the track progresses. These drones and the field recordings that gave present the whole track bring the track to the end which is fitting as they share similar qualities.

“Other Ashes (Stijn Hüwels Rework)” Hüwels is a Belgium based minimalist whose work has appeared on Dauw and Eilean Rec to name a few. Fittingly his take on the preceding drone dominated track is to strip it back and have it inhabit the background with snatches of manipulated field recordings being felt closer to the listener. The drones start to become slightly more menacing while the sound scape as an overall alien environment feeling. You get the feeling if the drones and to a small extent the field recordings being stretched out which slows them down, but also reveals a bit more about them. The track in some ways is a mirror to the original track in the positioning of the elements. The drones occupy a background element at the beginning, but towards the end they have taken over the foreground. They are also for the most consistent in their sound and tone, which is different to variety of sections of the original.

With both albums having Ian Hawgood as one of the collaborators you would get a sense of them being very similar. That is not the case here. The former feels like an atmospheric post-classical drone piece, while the latter, while also featuring drones, leads more to the contemporary fusion of electronics and other elements. Both albums are equally rewarding with their own individual characteristics and highlight the differences in approach between collaborators. As of writing both are £5 each for CD and digital (as well as other bargains from the HN catalog) and are well worth your money.

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