Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spheruleus - Frozen Quarters (Reviews)

"Spheruleus is an ambient composition project from young Lincolnshire-based sound designer Harry Towell, collecting fourteen pieces that all in some way feature recordings made in and around the artist's locality, making for music that serves as "an attempt to preserve and capture my day-to-day environment". Towell's music fits perfectly within the Under The Spire universe, not only evoking the sort of misty lusciousness that's become the imprint's calling card, but even calling upon the mastering services of previous UTS contributor Ian Hawgood (curator of the Home Normal imprint) who helps cast a frosty sheen over the album. There's a little more instrumental substance running through this edition than on some of the label's prior outings, and opening cut 'Vignette' recalls the scratchy, lo-fi and wintry melodies of Finnish soundscaper Hannu, while 'Solution' provides a similar feel, crinkling through ghostly music box figures. The flow between instrument-focussed content, field recordings and processed drones imbues the record with an especially compelling and varied arc, one that goes to extremes at times: apparently Towell clambered into a skip to record some of this to capture the right sort of natural reverb he was looking for. Now that's commitment for you. Taking an entirely different angle, 'Crescent' and 'Colophon' come close to Leyland Kirby or Caretaker-style looped reminiscences, emerging from an auditory fog - something that only amplifies the stealthily emotive character of the record. If there's one defining factor to these Under The Spire discs it's surely their accessibility, and their tendency to render abstract drone music an approachable and enjoyable experience - often even to the unconverted. This has seldom been more true than in the case of Frozen Quarters, an album full of evocative frequencies and atmospheric designs. Recommended."

I’ve been listening to this new release on Under The Spire a lot in the last week and I have to say it’s not only a fascinating piece of work, it’s also incredibly beautiful - possibly the most beautiful release on the label so far in fact. There’s just something about it that I can’t quite put my finger on and the way it’s lingered in my head long after playing it is testament to the attention that’s gone into it. Essentially the work is a series of mediations on the more naturalistic side of electronic music – the more organic end, if you will. Beginning with a deeply atmospheric and very oriental sounding piece it soon delves into some incredibly lush and fragile sounding tracks that move effortlessly between textured drone and melancholic, melodic works. Each seems to have its own unique micro-fragment of time and, although there are overarching themes here, each track is a work unto itself. Simply a stunningly fine album in my opinion that gets better with every single listen. Mastered by Ian Hawgood and limited to 150 numbered copies… you know what to do! Highly recommended

This is the work of Harry Towell who has used lots of field recordings from his local environment. I've joked in past reviews that records sound like they were made in a skip, but this chap has actually recorded some sounds in a skip, using its natural reverb. This is ultra chilled with some warm melodic elements derived from trumpet, harmonica, zither and guitar. This really is lovely soothing stuff that I guess sort of fails in the ambient category. Post-ambient perhaps??? This guy is talented and he makes some sublime sounds. Ltd hand numbered edition in the usual house style arigato-pak.

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