Steve Adey – Tower of Silence

Steve Adey sounds like a man possessed; a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, writing songs about it and recording them in some remote location with a few good friends, hoping the process will be therapeutic and the pain will subside somewhat. In doing so he can be quite brilliant but honestly, one feels the need to pat him on the shoulder saying cheer up, there's light at the end of the tunnel...

His latest  album Tower of Silence was recorded in an old church in Edinburgh, emphasizing room sound and going for feel and spontaneity rather than perfection. This record certainly has atmosphere and mood to spare. It sounds like a cross between a lugubrious Bon Iver and John Cale in a darker mood than usual.

The album starts off with “A Few Seconds Have Passed”; an impressionistic musique concrete piece that evokes minimalist composers like Eno, with a daring intro, establishing Adey's connection to the world of experimental music.

The sound of Tower of Silence is built on Adey's rich, morosely wailing baritone over minimal accompaniment, often just piano or guitar. In order to create a kind of 'futuristic folk' the sound is filled out by analogue synth and samplers, resulting in a strange hybrid that on a song like “Laughing” gives a very haunting effect, but in others simply sounds out of place and contrived, as on “Just Wait Till I Get You Home”.

When all the disparate elements come together, the effect is stunning, as in the 2'07'' gem “Army of One”, which sounds like the ghosts of a folk band from ancient times playing at the bottom of a well, singing about dreams from the past. “The Field” is where Adey's minimalism and mastery of dynamics are most convincing. The dynamics start out very subtly, letting this song unfold slowly and majestically into a black flower of beauty. Elsewhere “Dita Parlo” is a favourite. Inspired by the German actress who starred in Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, it has a full blown string arrangement, a dark and rich sound reminiscent of George Martin's most lyrical orchestrations, aptly making this the most cinematic track of the album.

Listening to the album can make you feel like you've been hit with an explosion of melancholy from a bottomless well of sadness, often delivered with enough bombast to knock you over and leave you gasping for air. But if you look carefully around the cavernous room, between the shards of broken glass and plaster and the pieces of Adey's broken heart you can see many moments of aching beauty and majestic sadness glistening in the light of the fading moon.

Release: 26th November 2012, Grand Harmonium Records

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