Simon Bainton: Visiting Tides

Though Visiting Tides is British musician Simon Bainton's debut album (as well as the second release in Hibernate's vinyl series), it's not his first recording. He previously issued Sun Settlings as part of Hibernate's Postcard Series and released albums and EPs with Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) under the Pausal name on Barge Recordings, Students Of Decay, and Highpoint Lowlife between 2009 and 2012. Available in a limited edition of 150 vinyl copies, Bainton's new release features seven settings, all of them named after different coastal areas and whose seamless transitions create an impression of uninterrupted flow. Put most simply, the album traffics in evocative soundscaping or, in this case, perhaps scene-painting is the better term. Using laptop processing, Bainton deftly conjures resplendent visualizations of the scenes in question using multiple resources, specifically acoustic instruments (acoustic guitar, voice, harmonica, flute, wind chimes), vinyl samples, field recordings, and answering machine messages.

Visiting Tides perpetuates Hibernate's predilection for ambient soundscaping, with Bainton's seven tracks less designed to frazzle one's nerves than soothe the soul. The sprawling, ethereal vista evoked in “Ruffydd,” for example, calls to mind a peaceful and heavenly setting more than an actual earthly locale, while the blissful “Tankah” does much the same, especially when it branches out into shimmering drone territory during its sun-dazed, eight-minute run. A notable departure from that prevailing mood arrives during the closing piece “Haven,” which gradually blossoms into a chugging dynamo that someone like Ohenotrix Point Never would be proud to call his own. In one of the standout pieces, Danny Norbury and Alex Lucas make key cello and field recordings contributions, respectively, to the entrancing “Porlock”; in this case it's easy to be swept away by the material when coastal sounds appear alongside the thrum of Bainton's piano playing and Norbury's pealing phrases. Strong, too, is “Dwynwen,” whose acoustic guitar plucks and waves of processed sparkle cast an entrancing spell.

As much as the album's two sides can be heard as presenting subtly contrasting ‘night' and ‘day' sides, Visiting Tides is most effective when experienced in the kind of continuous, forty-one-minute flow a CD presentation provides, as hearing this artfully crafted collection sans even a single interruption allows for the greatest possible immersion.

October 2013