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.


  1. Wow! Just found this. Thanks!! I came back to your site browsing some new releases. Really blown away by your review! I'll have the podcast with World Without End (which opens up the mix, of course) up in a few days, I got sidetracked for a few weeks. Much peace to you always!

  2. Just to let you know, I have posted a podcast with your song 'World Without End' (finished it up this morning). You can access it here: http://www.mixcloud.com/Tonepoet/melancholy-part-ii/ and download the mix from one of two places: http://tonepoet.podbean.com/ OR http://ambient-transmission.blogspot.com/

    Thanks, I hope that you enjoy the music as much as I enjoyed making the mix!

  3. Thomas, thank you - I've listened to the podcast a few times now and the whole thing is great. Very relaxing and definitely hits what I think is the beauty of melancholy. I'm grateful to be included alongside such amazing musicians and composers.

  4. Man, get in touch with me (tonepoetry[at]gmail[dot]com), I would love to collaborate on some writing with you!! If you're interested. I really love what you do. I have been doing a bit more recording and have made some pretty nice things so far. Peace.