This is one album I don’t really have too much to say about. It’s not bad. Just that it’s not too long, and as a result I don’t have too much to say. I immediately liked the album between this and the first one (An Escalator to Christmas, 1999). Of course, I also LOVED the first album reviewed HERE. It was ambient, but more skewed towards the rock side of things. That means slightly higher tempos, PROPER percussion and slightly lesser by way of electronic noise. This one by comparison goes completely the other way, revelling in spooky whale song soundscapes over melted basslines and jazz percussion. Paradoxically, there are quite a few more ‘acoustic’ sounds scattered throughout the album, particularly the flute, which add an oriental flavour to such tracks as Cicadian Haze.
I’d say that for an ambient album, its pretty daring in places. For instance, ‘Politician’ basically consists of sounds of an old gramophone and a woman err….practicing self sufficiency. Infact, sometimes it’s so daring, that I have to ask whether this really is ambient music. I mean, the rythms are consistent and all, there is a big electronica influence, but I don’t find this neither trippily ambient nor blend-into-the-background fare. In short, it doesn’t really float my boat.
That said, ‘The Shadow of Twisted Hand Across my House’ is a fantastic track. The trumpet/sax solo at 3.10 is a flash of genius by Steven Wilson. You really don’t expect it. But it quickly reels you in. For god sakes, a Jazz solo in the middle of Ambient Electronica? Outrageous!! Yes, and brilliant. It sounds Xenochronic. For those who care, that means taking a musical part from one composition (say, the bassline from ‘Higher Ground’) and putting it in another (say, ‘Imagine’).
That’s about all I have to say. For those of you who are waiting for Porcupine Tree-esque, you won’t find that here. I mean, the tracks are heavily electronica based, but the personality is not nearly the same. The hooks are not there, just an ambient sort of consistency. I had massive expectations in the first place after hearing the first album, and sadly, this doesn’t quite sound right.
– El Bajista
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