Lawrence English / Tom Hall: Euphonia

Celer and Lawrence English would seem to fighting it out for a “Most Prolific Artist” award, judging by the wealth of releases the two artists have issued during the past year (not to mention the number of textura reviews that have appeared in tandem with said releases). This month's English release on the Italian label PRESTO!? comes in the form of a collaboration between the ROOM40 manager and the young Brisbane electronic musician Tom Hall. Euphonia finds the duo shaping analogue and electronic sounds into seven low-level ambient and drone settings that collectively clock in at thirty-eight minutes. Instrumentation isn't clarified but piano, guitars, electronics, and field recordings appear to form the dominant parts of the mix, and the sound is fleshed out subtly by the contributions of guitarist Dan Lewis and bassist Benjamin Thompson to one track apiece.

Nominally ambient, “Lines Twine Oscillation” establishes the recording's understated style at the outset by unfurling a meditative array of softly shimmering sounds, with the electric piano meander giving the piece an Eno-like quality. “Veiled Twilight” is like a three-minute ambient piece of low-level tonal shape-shifting whose insect chirps suggest it could have been recorded in the forest, while Thompson's bass anchors an ambient drift of piano and guitar tones during “In An Absence.” Ambient too is “Mute Rings” which paints a vaporous cloud from reverberant electronic brushstrokes, and “Press, Breath” which punctuates its shimmering tones with gamelan-like tinkles. Field elements move to the forefront in “Fluttering Animations” whose percolating crackle and static sounds as if the clacking noise of a train had been processed into something resembling a campfire. Euphonia isn't an earth-shattering release by any stretch of the imagination but is nevertheless a solid enough exercise in ambient-drone soundsculpting by two simpatico colleagues.

June 2009