Kinbrae is twins Andy and Mike Truscott, and Landforms is an impressively engaging series of pieces evolving from responses to the varied movement and rhythm of the River Tay over time.
In one sense, the album represents a risky strategy as, inevitably, the resultant compositions are impressionistic. Yet “impressionistic” is definitely here not a pejorative, and at its finest the album brings to mind some features of Debussy’s orchestral pieces, such as his Nocturnes.
Andy Truscott’s synths, electronics, percussion and piano combine most effectively with Mike’s cornet, tenor horn and guitars. Various field recordings and samplings are strategically incorporated, and the overall results manifest the careful thought that has gone into avoiding the over-complicating that could have produced too broad a sonic dispersal. Instead, what we have is adventurous originality with a finely-judged combination of control and improvisation.
Entitling a track “Meander” might well have provided a hostage to fortune, but in fact here there is both variety and a clear sense of order that keeps the course of musical purpose well defined.
What works especially well across the album is the thought-through mix of, on the one hand, energetic pace and rhythm representing the river in full flow (as in “Confluence”) and, on the other, the more introspective tracks (such as in “The Bridge at Night”) which, with their subtle details, are so much more than the unfocused ambient elements that so often are passed off as “neo-classical” in the contemporary music world. Landforms is intelligent, coherent and consistently rewarding.