Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Illumination - Harmony & Decay

I was directed to Illumination, a name-your-price Bandcamp release, by a comment on this blog from Thomas Lindsey, one half of the duo Harmony & Decay. One of the great things about being involved in the netlabel, podcast and ambient/experimental/noise scene is the serendipity of hearing from other musicians who are barking up the same or some similar tree, and I'm just sorry this review may come a little late to do much good for an October 2012 release.

Reading over the duo's website after listening to Illumination a couple of times, I was not surprised to learn that Harmony & Decay is the experimental project of two professional musicians exploring minimalism as an alternative to the more structured and note-intensive styles they encounter in their day jobs, or, as expressed on their website, a means getting "back to the basic roots of sound, as opposed to notes." This is a feeling shared by a lot of us, but what I really like about their work is the fact that much of their sound is notes. That is, though the tracks on Illumination reveal a lot of thoughtful sound design techniques incorporating tasteful bits of glitch and (probably) some field recordings, what really stands out to me is the sense of a restrained melodic impulse underpinning each of the tunes. "Burning Sky" and "As the Phantom Breeze Whispers" in particular evolve on top of spaciously beguiling phrases, with "Burning Sky" being for me the standout track on the release.

Another facet of the release which speaks to the duo's professionalism and breadth of musical experience is the tastefulness of the arrangements. These pieces are not the effects-heavy walls of sound that one so often encounters in the realm of dark ambient soundscapes, but instead communicate a thoughtful, deep and thoroughly conceived approach to actual minimalism. Taken together, these characteristics of Illumination make it remarkable for being simultaneously inventive and refreshingly straight forward, and I look forward to hearing more from Harmony & Decay.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Binaural Banjo Episode

I posted a tune this evening over at my alter-ego site, to which I think I should go ahead and own up. It's kind of the airy, melodic light ambient side of my musical self. Like Prince in his Spooky Electric phase or whatever. Anyway, the companion blog is the Binaural Banjo, and I've been at it since 2007 so there's a lot of stuff up there, some of which is kind of noisy and experimental and should appeal to folks who like my darker drone music. Plus all the tunes have binaural beats for meditative effects and make pretty good headphone listening at low volumes. I enjoy it a lot and those who don't know about it might like it, too.

The mp3 includes embedded artwork.