Last Days: These Places Are Now Ruins

Like his 2006 debut Sea, Graham Richardson's sophomore Last Days outing, These Places Are Now Ruins, again gives voice to the brooding and resigned character of his music. The Edinburgh, Scotland resident purportedly created the album to be an aural document of the thoughts and feelings one experiences when returning home after being away a long time. Not surprisingly, then, regret, ennui, and nostalgia naturally colour his deeply textured electronic moodscapes. His computer-based music transforms its source material until it loses its identifying character, and becomes abstract and blurry in the process.

These Places Are Now Ruins includes numerous lovely moments, such as the blurry string-drenched overture “Station,” which finds Richardson gravitating towards Eluvium territory, and “Saved by a Helicopter,” a pretty interlude of untreated piano. A stormy mass of clatter, haze, and sirens blows the background of “Reasons to Go” but not so loudly that it overwhelms its lilting piano and glockenspiel melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios. Here and elsewhere, Last Days opts for chord progressions that may be relatively simple but are effective nonetheless. Despite its mournful mood, “Points Bridge” registers as a beautiful, church-like meditation, its ascetic, devotional character warmed by the intermittent appearance of an acoustic guitar and subdued beat pattern. During “Swimming Pools at Night,” celestial hum pierces the rippling cloud of static, enabling the church tones to enter too.

Now that Eluvium has traded—temporarily, at least—the hazier soundscaping style of Talk Amongst the Trees for the more symphonic Copia , the field is wide open for Last Days to lay claim to that hazy style (interestingly, though, Last Days' “Station Part Two,” a stately setting dominated by glockenspiel, piano, and strings, adopts a largely uncluttered approach that aligns it closer in spirit to Copia). These Places Are Now Ruins certainly shows that he's more than up to the challenge.

December 2007