archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2001 ….
“There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. I love music passionately. And because l love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth, an open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It must never be shut in and become an academic art.”
Claude Debussy 1862-1918.
Picture the setting. Log cabins, the crackle of the fire as the flames encircle to feed on the freshly cut logs, the glow and the prickly warmth coursing through the atoms as the heat expels it’s tingling passion throughout. Beyond the confines of the glow, snow gently falls, gently, but diligently clothing the colourful landscape and, as it appears, nature itself with a finely fitted warming blanket of it’s own. White, virginal, pure, lightly it falls, miraculous droplets of icy flakes, intertwining perfectly to form a glowing beacon amidst the rise of the morning sun. In the distance the flow of water from the nearby stream continues it’s never ending flow, busying itself smoothing with each passing current, the banks that contrive to contain it. Further along, towards the snow peaked tree-tops, the dawn chorus of birds embark on their ritual early morning prayer, a rabbit scurries, all at once playful yet aware in all it’s folly of the stillness and the danger. The scene is spellbinding, three miles up the crooked road to the left of the copse, the hustle and bustle of insomniac city life replays another cycle. The log cabin, though relatively near could be, for all intents and purposes at the far end of the galaxy, such is the serenity and calm, in fact it could be in a land only visited in dreams, myths, folklore and the like.
What point are you making, you may ask, why the Christmas card style or chocolate box decoration. Simple enough to answer. For those fortunate enough to hear the debut mini long player by Fort Dax, each and everyone of you will be touched by a similar vision. It is, agreed, a vision of oblivion, but then good music should touch, it should awake, invoke, evoke emotional pulses. Good music, no matter from what genre, should like fine food, art, literature, drink, whatever stirs the imagination. It should act as sanctuary, a place of personal privacy were thoughts and imaginations run amok.
‘At Bracken’ pervades a delicate sensitive charm. Richly co-ordinated classical vibrancy with a sensual heart and soul to match. The soothing tip toeing melodies wispy in body forming like candyfloss on a stick, slowly cantering, rising to miniature fragmented rhapsodies. In terms of feel, the overall sheen offered distinctly points to the dreamy lullaby symphonies of Raymond Scott and follows the modern day exponents of simplistically sounding fluffy electronica as metered out by ISAN and Plone.
In some respects, and though I feel daft to say it, ‘At Bracken’ viewed overall ebbs and flows like some kind of electric mini opera or ballet. ‘eiderblumen’ the opening track acts as a prelude breezily entering the magical portal that divides between reality and fairytale heralded by the arrival of ‘as yet untitled’, itself possessing an air of wonderment akin to the ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, slowly unwinding itself in hypnotic states in such entrancing fashion. ‘august falling pinewood overpollen’ breaks the elegant spell momentarily, casting subtle processed clicks and ushering a slightly snaking monochrome drone.
‘molasses-black parable’ tensely brings things back on track, fraught with it’s busyness, the apparent mergence of dissonant sounds creating celestial eddies warping the serenity sensually recaptured by ‘and where we hold on’ Remarkable on several fronts, firstly it’s creativity in mixing the soft with the rough, the gentle melodies gliding into the maelstrom of fuzzy interference upping the dramatic flow, each appearing to battle it out for superiority. The initial looping beats acting at odds with the romantic sweep of the piano. However as with all renowned operas, symphonies whatever, the finale is where the performance slowly but assuring works towards. ‘like cream inside your spine’ is well up to the task. Initially released as a single last year, it was without doubt one of those very rare treasured moments, a truly classic(al) affair, effervescent, tingling and touching, grand but not grandiose. A beautiful concoction of chilled symphonic passion and electronic lushness enriched in colours and long forgotten childhood fantasies.
And all this from one man, a bank of electronics and an ear for elegance. I bet he air brushes Michelangelo in his spare time. ‘At Bracken’, a pleasure to be in earshot of.