Alan Brown: Murmur (Rattle Seventh House Music/bandcamp)

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Halting Problem
Alan Brown: Murmur (Rattle Seventh House Music/bandcamp)

Keyboard player Alan Brown's recent ambient and improvised work has frequently found favour at Elsewhere because he often steps beyond the Eno-obvious and into rather more allusive soundscapes.

As he does here when using electronic instruments to create leisurely loops and allow for effects to suggest natural elements (as on the electro-hiss of rain and wind which opens the gorgeously adrift title track).

Because of his lengthy background in jazz, Brown is one you can trust to “improvise” because his sensibilities are attuned to different directions and possibilities.

So while there are some recognisable allusions or evocations here (deep space, futuristic taonga puoro which introduce the gravity-defying Halting Problem) there's always the sense that this suspended music could go anywhere which, even in the most comforting of pieces, creates a frisson of tension (Explorer).

With music such as this it is sometimes hard to escape our aural conditioning (yes, that ambience of Gateway is just waiting for the image of a spacecraft lost in the lonely cosmos) but the best approach is like mantra yoga: just focus on a single abstract thought and immerse yourself in the sound which exists of itself.

That way you can experience the elegance of these atmospheres (Surface Tension, And Then There Was which is a very Eno/Music for Films title) or the subtle soundscapes created (the gentle ebb and flow on the layered Sea Change).

Sometimes this is quite specific: Reflexion with lengthy sustain is a thoughtful, appropriately minimal, dedication to the late Harold Budd whose beautiful and innovative piano work came to attention through Brian Eno's Obscure label and who also worked with Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins).

And it isn't all evaporating sound, the closer Place of Disappearances has a real sense of unease and presence. 

Murmur – an appropriate title – is another exploratory volume on Rattle's new Seventh House imprint (“music free of commercial or generic confines . . . discovered in the process of being formed”) which joins albums in our usefully stateless Further Outwhere pages.

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You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here.

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These Further Outwhere pages are dedicated to sounds beyond songs, ideas outside the obvious, possibiltiies far from pop. Start the challenge here.


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