Need More Sources: Shed

Quite a lovely debut album from Chris Stewart (aka Need More Sources), and one very much consistent with Moteer's reflective electronic music aesthetic. With changes of season and weather patterns the thematic threads, Shed alternates between light and dark, quiet jubilation (the spirited folk dance “Spring” explodes in a joyous mix of violin, piano, and hand claps) and melancholy (“Autumn” elegantly augments somber piano minimalism with a violin's warble). Such contrasts never get too extreme, however; in another's hands, “Storm” might rage wildly; in Stewart's, the neo-classical setting's string patterns are urgent without being violent. The album is filled with strong moments: awakening slowly, “Morning” opens the album in meditative manner with seven minutes of see-sawing violins that emerge from an electronic haze of gentle washes and harp strums; the delicate drone “Snow” glistens with tablas and keening strings; and “Breeze” pairs dusty piano meander and strings with the almost subliminal whoosh of winds. Especially lovely is “Rain” a placid and peaceful setting that positions clusters of harp plucks alongside a graceful stream of melancholic melodies. One caveat: a shame Stewart felt compelled to include occasional drum interjections which not only conventionalize his sound and compete with other instruments for attention but are wholly unnecessary; his Need More Sources material is structured and propulsive enough to hold up fine without such percussive enhancement. Though the first six minutes of “Valley,” for instance, are almost unbelievably beautiful, the delicate mood is disrupted by the intrusion of drums, even if, in this case, the move introduces contrast.

August 2007