martes, 22 de junio de 2010

Olan Mill - Pine

Genre: Ambient, Electronic
Label: Serein



It seems to be becoming quite fashionable these days to record modern classical music on location, particularly within a church setting due to the elegant, almost haunting cadences it can imbue, and excellent examples of this can be heard in releases by Greg Haines or Dustin O'Halloran on the Sonic Pieces imprint. But there's more to the music on Pine than simply the echo, reverb and cloistered space provided by the small church setting in which it was recorded and it all comes down to the ingenious use of the minimal array of acoustic instruments used coupled with a unique approach to their production and arrangement.

The base palette of Pine consists merely of piano, violin, guitar and perhaps most importantly the church organ. Indeed it is this last element that proves to be the key that unlocks the door to Pine's ever elongating corridors of time, an omnipresent exhalation of voluptuous cushions of soft, sometimes cavernous bass drones that are as much felt as they are heard. Pine also views the world through sepia tinted spectacles, bathing it in honeyed tones, golden hues and sweet, syrupy textures. Whether it is the hay-smoked strings, hazy piano keys and caramelised, melted subterranean organ drones of "Country", "A Heavy Leg Cycle," "An Obedient Ear" or "Spare Smoke Template" or the bright gold filigree of twinkling piano keys that dapple "Cotton Access," "Pine" or "Disempowered," these binding agents are ever-present.

The spell is briefly broken by the totally unprocessed, plangent piano solo at the head of "The Prescribed Individual," accompanying strings later languishing in its wake, which sees the album veering dangerously towards overt sentimentality. It's not that there is anything wrong with the piece, in fact it is one of the most emotionally moving tracks on the album but for that reason it seems almost to belong to a different album and has somehow crept in here unnoticed. Luckily the enchantment is quickly recast.

The stretching of time reaches its apex on closing track, "Flume," consisting of scarcely more than broadly spaced, single piano chords that initially ebb woozily into the depths before they are folded back on themselves by reversed guitar distortions. A final chord is hit a mere one-and-a-half minutes into the piece and time effectively comes to a standstill as it stretches this warm decay and resonance over seemingly impossible lengths, an oddly comforting stasis that continues literally to "Flume"'s conclusion some four minutes later.

Pine is an almost dangerously understated that would be easy to overlook if given a merely cursory glance, but rest assured it is worth the very modest amount of your time that it demands, if only to remind us all that sometimes we need to escape from the stress and celerity of modern life. Olan Mill don't attempt to hypnotize us here; this isn't about trickery or illusion. Instead these brilliant alchemists have transmuted the smallest array of source materials into what can only be described as bottled eternity that, if taken, can transport you out of time and into a realm of mesmerising tranquility and statuesque stillness. Review from Igloo Magazine

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