Darla Records / DLA, 1998
Piano Magic's contribution to Darla Records' cheesily-titled "Bliss Out" ambient series is my first experience of the eclectic works of Glen Johnson and his collaborators. It's not cheesy or Classic FM type stuff though, it's in the spirit of subtle, quiet atmosphere-setting music.
The main attraction here is the first half, "Trick of the Sea". Following the "pick-a-natural-phenomenon" technique of writing about ambient music, if I didn't know this was sea-inspired, I think I would have picked drifting clouds in the sky. It's the way it moves weightlessly through a series of short passages, where each one subtly disperses and reforms. Their tasteful and picturesque choice of sounds includes feathery electronics, shy guitars, and the occasional passage of floaty singing from Lucy Gulland. It's not musically over-sophisticated, focusing on either pure atmospheres or simple childlike melodies.
The flip side "Halloween Boat" is much more obviously sea-based. Not least because of the seashore noises that wash over this piece of sparse electronica. The crisp sequencer lines are like something from early Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream. It just bubbles away mellowly, with a moody sampled voice at the start to add a tinge of darkness.
November 14, 2005