For my first post on Echoes & Dust, I wanted to revisit an album that has ensnared me in the two months or so that I have had it. I say revisit because I first commented on Oathless' Peripheral: Music for an Imaginary Film on my personal blog back in June. I am a big fan of the music that is released through Hawk Moon Records and I eagerly snapped up a chance to hear this work from Oathless aka Simon Housley, a young chap from Stoke-on-Trent in the UK who makes the most delightful ambient/electronic music under this alias.
Not every album I review stays in regular rotation after I have commented on it, usually I make myself sick of it and need a break, other times something new comes along and takes my interest away. Both of these examples do not apply to Peripheral, I have yet to get sick of it and, whilst new music has come and gone, my interest in this album hasn't waned.
The main reason why I think I haven't fallen out of love for this album is simply down to the quality of it, Housley has found my ‘cinematic soundtrack’ button and pressed it with his emotive, vibrant yet slightly melancholic soundscapes. I've said before and I'll say again, why this isn't an actual soundtrack astounds me because it really does sound sufficiently accomplished to back something significant onscreen.
Housley's music is definitely a result of his obsession with soundtracks, not the ones with bombastic & infectious melodies like the opening titles to Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is more akin to incidental music, the music that enhances the atmosphere and, in turn, the film, the music than can go unnoticed by the majority.
Take the opening track – ‘I Thought I Saw Her In A Dream’ - for example, it glides into the listener’s conscious, a sparse and delicate soundscape with a repeating piano-based motif & some subtle synths, a track that doesn't demand attention, rather it politely forms a good impression &, in doing so, sets the scene for the remainder of the album.
This sparseness flows through Peripheral with tracks like ‘Amidst the Fog He Lost Her’ & ‘The Calm After the Storm’, both wonderfully delicate and open.
In addition, on the first half of the album, Housley uses delay to create an almost ‘dubby’ effect. Whilst it took me a wee moment to get used to this, now it just makes sense. The first 5 tracks all have some form of delay & I wouldn't have them any other way.
From track 6 – ‘Intermission: Veiled’ - onwards the album takes more of an ambient, incidental neo-classical direction, with the emphasis placed firm on the melody, performed mostly on piano, and feeling.
Take track 7 - ‘The Calm After the Storm’ - a sparse soundscape with a delicate drone that underpins an equally delicate melody played on piano. It is heart-breakingly beautiful and a real highlight on the recording.
All the tracks build towards the albums climax - nearly 11 minutes of absolute beauty entitled ‘Coda, For the End of Days’. This is the standout track on the album, a track that has stayed with me since I first heard it, a track that slowly & gradually builds in expression and feeling, an ebb & flow forming the rhythm of the piece, before reaching a synth-laden crescendo of epic proportions. It is a fitting end for a fab album.
The reason this album has stayed with me is because it is simply stunning & I tend to cherish something this beautiful.