Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Robert Scott Thompson - Gold Flowers Bloom Mercury Petals

Robert Scott Thompson - Gold Flowers Bloom Mercury Petals

Read review at Morpheus

Graceful beatless ambient instrumentals. Gold Flowers Bloom Mercury Petals is a suite of interconnected compositions that flow smoothly from one to another with slight shifting transitions. The variation from track to track is subtle and at times almost imperceptible - yet each piece progresses the journey further from its origin passing into passages of fluctuating harmony and atonality, moments of gathering darkness and emergent beauty, transient lightness or deep wells of intensity. The collected compositions all benefit from an oriental sensitivity, sparsity and classically delicate touch. Many of the tracks feature flowing drone beds and swells of smooth synthetic tone either underpinning minimalist melodies or themselves embodying the focal forms. A restful oceanic heave is the most pervasive rhythmic device, rising and falling allowing the more buoyant elements to drift idly with the tides.

Gold Flowers Bloom Mercury Petals is an immersive collection of a dozen pieces that form a fluid whole with faint hints of the Far East frequently adding to the placid refinement of the album. The balance of light and darkness here has resulted in music that has an appealing meditative nature yet that avoids all of the clichés of most 'relaxation music'.

Gold Flowers Bloom Mercury Petals arrives as a jewel case package with single sheet insert. The artwork throughout features clusters of white blossom on twig tips with golden anthers emerging from golden centres. These delicate flowers are presented on bottle green backdrops wherein the breakers and foam of rolling seascapes can be faintly discerned. The elegant strokes and angles of oriental characters along with small framed flower graphics complete the design elements. On the rear cover the blooms are closest footing a timed tracklist, with website details in small type to the right. Within the only details are credits for artwork.

Gold Flowers Bloom Mercury Petals comes as the latest release from classical ambient composer Robert Scott Thompson. The album is delivered via his own Aucourant Records label and follows in the paths delineated by previous albums The Silent Shore, Frontier and Blue Day. The album holds twelve tracks that flow as a single entity via morphing transitions. The Aucourant Records website holds samples of all tracks.

The album opener unfurls with sweeping pads and sibilant percussive clacking sounds. The pervasive drifting feel that recurs throughout much of the suite is here right from the start, shifts of intensity at times seeing the music almost disperse into nothingness. Graceful string phrases waft like summer breezes, drawn out strains of scant melody silky smooth against the echoing effects that periodically shudder into earshot.
A gradual morph opens the second piece, the mood similar to its forerunner yet somewhat darker; a brooding drone humming below further string phrases that swell into being and fade away with unhurried regularity, like the sunshine passing behind clouds. At just over seven minutes, this is almost the longest of the twelve tracks. The ending sees the introduction of wispy air movements that flit across the transition into ...
Voicelike pads and slightly brassy sounds interweave forming rather abstract patterns wherein the previous ebbing and flowing of wavelike melody persists. The serene, attractive nature of the foreground forms are in contrast to periodic builds of dissonance and occasional openings of dark space that form behind.
A wavering tremolo effect leads into this brief two minute fifty four arrangement, an uneasy ambient bed gradually amassing beneath. In time this gathering drone mass becomes prominent, diverse threads lifting out from the current - only the flow remaining.
An air of mystery hangs as the backdrop to Quiet Lands, brief melodic phrases of piano-like notes deep within the aural fog of the piece. The ponderous regular swaying of some of the initial passages is less obvious now - drones more constant, increasingly hypnotic.
The same steady gloom from the last track continues. Emergent fluttering synthetics coming to the fore midway, echoing and spacey approaching percussion almost. Metallic and bright against the ambient shadow behind, for a while approaching cacophony, then consonant, flowing together in an intensity of movement adorned with sounds that resemble effected, muted bell-trees.
Now a stronger theme forms. Expansive and broad, suggestive of open spaces and fresh air. Oriental embellishments echo and reverberate - like distant variations on traditional instrumentation - and the piece is gone, just one minute forty three ...
The mood runs onward into Hypersigil - the panoramic breadth of the synth sweeps shifting lazily into a section of elegant depth and low frequency classic beauty. Perhaps the most beautiful track thus far - deep string-like phrases moving like large shapes under water whilst sharper drones adorn the surface with meandering currents.
Arc Lamp opens with a brightness of higher tones like beams of aural light shining in graceful motion. These shiny strains gather in wavering, almost atonal structures over a faint continuance of the thematic forms from Hypersigil, here slightly lighter and with a growing weightlessness that leave the piece floating in the ether.
The fleeting two minutes, twenty six seconds of this track remains without weight - echoing effects and sussurant noise enwrapped about a more sparse thematic thread. Something of the night inhabits this piece - the fizz and sizzle of the treble strains like distant insect communities announcing the darkness, the emptiness of the music like the emptiness of the night sky.
Here a new melodic structure arises, chimes in ascending scales, gently stepping upward over hazy, drawn out string-drones. Refined and stately, this longest composition lasts for over eight minutes, the constantly rising chimes now and then emphasised with piano touches. As the conclusion approaches a gathering cloud mass of less harmonious texture replaces the scales. A steady amorphous zone of sound that passes across the transition into ...
The rhythmic regularity of Round In Circles is gone - now a sonic expanse opens out. This composition is strongly textural, multiple layers moving among one another, hiss and noise inseparable from undulating tonal strands. Punctuating splashes of sound reverberate periodically, keeping the piece in motion. The finale drawing near, the layers thin out and soften allowing the air itself to breathe into dominance and it's over.

This is an album of dignified melodic ambience that will appeal to listeners with an appreciation of minimalist music with classical beauty and oriental restraint. Give the music a listen at the Aucourant Records website and decide for yourself.


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