The electroacoustic/post-classical/ambient (yes, I agree, it does need a new handle) field is currently about as overstuffed as any I can think of. There’s a wealth of established acts, and then a great slew of releases on smaller labels that seem to multiply infinitely into the distance – a fact that induces a kind of vertigo if you look too closely. Strangely though, there is a kind of comfort in knowing that there can be so much good and great music being made, and on such a small scale. It has its own kind of purity.
Into which comes Dials the first EP from The Moving Dawn Orchestra, the new project from Guy Andrews, sometime ambient creator with Iambic². Dials is released on the Fluid Audio imprint, an offshoot of the excellent Fluid Radio project that sits at something of a crossroads in the genres mentioned above, acting as a kind of node, drawing scene strands together. It’s released in a very limited run, and comes in exquisite packaging, featuring photographs (haunting scenes, featuring unnamed silhouettes in sepia landscapes), a parchment roll, and a hand made stitched fabric cover. My copy came wrapped with a handful of cloves, that singular smell acting as a harbinger of the music itself.
And that heavy hanging smell of cloves is a useful analogue, as the music on Dials does have a hovering presence. Thematically, the EP’s four tracks trace the passing of a year, and are built around Andrews’ simple piano figures, a deep cello undertow, acoustic instruments such as a xylophone, plus various washes of analogue synths. This exploration of the natural world is something Andrews has explored through his work with Iambic², but here, programmed beats are replaced with a more painterly method, the evocations more elegiac.
‘Keep Still’ (the track based around summer) is suitably warm and enveloping. It begins with a dripping glockenspiel, over which washes soft drones; an acoustic guitar picks out a lazy rhythm before Andrews’ hushed voice whispers ‘don’t stop, this summer to be’. It’s vaguely reminiscent of some of Keith Kennif’s work as Helios and has a similar sense of grace. ‘Silhouette’, the ‘winter’ track, has a more somber tone, built around again a simple piano progression, and a haunting cello line. Alongside the artwork, this track hints at something deeper within the work – beyond any abstracted sense of time passing, lived lives. It’s quietly powerful.
Dials is a strong release all round, and worth tracking down. Copies are available from Fluid Audio.