4AD - Beggars Group, 2001
Moody, atmospheric film music built from a tastefully-assembled palette of rich, organic sounds. It's perfectly suited to 4AD, the arty label that this was Piano Magic's first outing for, and draws comparison to the quintessential 4AD act This Mortal Coil. Liquidly smooth sustained guitars, distant electronics, big orchestral harps, a keening viola solo, and a variety of real and synthesised bell sounds all take their turn in melodies that flow like honey over the recurring seashore sound-effects.
Two longer pieces dominate the minutes of this short album. Track number 5 has elements of Tangerine Dream in its gentle electronica, and shares material with another Piano Magic album "Trick of the Sea". The sixth starts out in Brian Eno world, a looped fragment on a soft bell sound and a splash of synth voice. This is built up into an entrancing, sustained arch with the aid of a melancholy solo viola and some mildly intrusive percussion.
It reminds me of a remark I made on another review about the sounds of the sea and bells being a perfectly-coupled basis for ambient music. In my half-formed ideas of getting into ambient composition, this would be the kind of music I would be aiming for as a first step - rich natural noises mingled with warm real-instrument melodies and electronic textures. Simple on the surface, but this kind of careful arrangement of sounds is surprisingly difficult.
April 1, 2006