Paul Bradley and Colin Potter - The Simple Plan (CD ICR)
For a moment there I thought it was going to be the soundtrack to the film 'A Simple Plan.' Thankfully not.
In the world of electronica (and its ilk) they're all buried under the latest software technology, admiring what the latest plug-in can do, confusing the tools for the Art. Complexity and techno-trickery is confused for an expression of the human soul. Layers upon multi-layers, intricately edited. For what?
But help is at hand. Bradley and Potter have worked with sound long enough to know when to step back and maintain an eye on what they started in music for in the first place. If you must hit the Record button then let it record what's happening in the room. For this album they've admirably recorded it in 'real time', or 'reel time' as we would've said in the good old days of reel to reel tapes. Guitars, synths, and I suspect a heap of old and new effects units were played live and recorded as is. Sure there's the necessary process of mixing later on but the heart is there. Back to the methods that first inspired you to try it yourself. Hands on.
Before playing the album I was listening to a recent Qluster LP. Soft edged ambience. Smooth organic analogue. The Simple Plan's opening 18 minute track 'Embrace' has the same enigmatic charm. Simple it is, and as true. A drift and a glide in a bright sky. The start of it all.
As the album progresses the soft undulations suggest a rhythm of their own, unobtrusive enough to bring some sense of form without defining moments. It's safe to sway. A circular soft buzz comes like a glow of colour. The swelling and ebbing of drones build.
We go deeper, dwelling on stillness, with the lengthy and enormously rewarding 'Gloaming.' As it evolves you find yourself going 'ahhhhhh' like some sort of Pran Nath disciple. Feel your chest resonate. Become the air itself. How does it feel to you?
'Alta Marea' is the pusher. The moment when you finally can't resist anymore and you have to look straight into the Sun, like in Danny Boyle's film 'Sunshine' (yeah it was another shite Hollywood product but the Sun was good.) A full chord on the organ rises and pushes. You know it'll burn you but you want to know what it feels like to see what you couldn't bring yourself to look at. Like a deep breath of clean air after a life of stale air, it swells inside you. Understated and reassuring.
And then the come down of 'Supernal.' A soft landing. Things are simpler now and you're all the better for it.
It's an incredibly gentle album and one to play when you're looking out the window at the streets below and wondering how life brought you here. It's strength lays in that it doesn't feel like an album that was made to be released. It feels like someone pressed the Record button when two men happened to spend the day imagining a world in which they could drift in light.
The first 135 copies came with the bonus disc 'Accreation' which is a reworking of the album. Not heard by us. Maybe you were luckier? HM