Saturday, April 14, 2012

Loving... "Landfall" by Peter James

I have a huge amount of time and respect for ambient soundscape architect Peter James. He’s a great bloke with a heart of gold and the creativity to make the kind of ambient soundscapes that I absolutely adore. I was, as such, absolutely delighted to receive a preview copy of his latest release on the Relaxed Machinery label... ”landfall”.

”Landfall” consists of three pieces that vary in length... from 7:12 to 35:36... making up 61 minutes of overall music when the last track is included at 17:14. This is relevant because these pieces truly thrive in their allotted time... like tea given the opportunity to infuse.

”Relocation” is the opening track... which comes in at 7:12. It is simply gorgeous... a bright and open ambient drone that exudes a delicate elegance. It is unhurried and benefits from this... taking it’s own time to unfold and become. Truly beautiful and certainly up there with James’ best.

The second track - ”landfall” - is the biggie... an engaging and deeply immersive longform piece that really thrives in the 35 minutes it has been given. I love longform ambient drones like this and this is truly excellent. Just like ”relocation” it is unhurried... but it still manages to ensnare the listener from the off... drawing them into a twilight world...the place where the shadows appear. The melodic nature of this track is superb... it really feeds the soul... especially when the more percussive ”bangs” appear around the 10 minute mark.

I could describe this track as epic... it truly is in many ways on paper due to its length predominately... but I would be doing a disservice to James in doing so because it doesn't feel epic... it doesn’t feel long. Some journeys don't feel like journeys and this track, whilst being magnificently and proudly longform doesn't feel drawn out or, for that matter, overly long. I guess this is why James is a master of this genre, in my eyes, because he creates soundscapes that defy time due to their immersive and really personal engagement. They provide focus... and space to breathe... and only disappoint when they finish.

The last track - ”separation” - finishes the release with 17:14 of a slightly darker still drone soundscape.  Equally immersive as the other two, this has a slightly spookier and more dissonant feel, at least initially, until you bed down into it. There is a fluidity that is most delightful to listen to... that has an organic feel about it... like the rustle of wind in trees or ebb and flow of the tide in a seacave.

Personally, I would have sequenced this track second with ”landfall” coming in last... saving the best to last, so to speak. ”Separation” is very good, don't get me wrong, especially on it’s own but it jars slightly when placed in the context of a sequential three-track album because ”landfall” really does steal the show, in my opinion... and finishes of a brighter note.

That said... it's a small observation and in no way a criticism of James... who has, once again, produced an album of note... an album that demonstrates his mastery of his craft and one that is a sheer delight to ambient drone fans like myself.

Put it this way... if James wanted to release this on my fledgling netlabel... I wouldn’t ask any questions... I would just get it out ASAP.

My thanks, as always, to John and the chaps at Relaxed Machinery for giving me a preview copy of this release and to Peter for making such awesome music. We need more folks like you all in this world.


Landfall - Peter James

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