Monday, 25 August 2014

Ian William Craig - A Turn of Breath

Tense Beauty

This is at times beautiful, at times frustrating, and at times both where the tension is everything. The choric vocal is always pretty/melodic and one wants to be carried away with its pacifying beauty, but the electronic disruptions which are static and cut-outs and distortions and obliterations prevent this, a chorus interruptus both teasing and swelling. Perhaps the struggle to hear and define those melodies provides a paradoxical clarity, or it is simpler than this: prettiness usurps interference – though that too sounds pretentious. Perhaps it is similar to how one once fought aurally when listening to medium/long wave radio transmissions and the snippets satisfied because that is how it was.

Ian Williams Craig is operatically trained and thus the sweeping vocal soundscapes have this authority. Because of the electronic molestation, it reminds of James Black [the analogy will need to unravel…] where he has used loops and echoes and other effects to heighten the pretty falsetto of his singing, but this has spawned a clone of similar performers where Black’s original idea is now hackneyed by such laboured copying abuse – Craig’s manufacturing by comparison seems fresh because it makes a clear distinction between the two [the vocal and the electronic] though as already mentioned they are paradoxically inextricable in overall effect.

One track Either Or is the most sustained as a choric piece because the five minutes of its modern polyphony is free from any effects assault. It is almost as if to say this is what the music could be, and the title obviously suggests so. This is followed by A Slight Grip, A Gentle Hold [part 2] which is again ‘conventional’ vocal with harmonium in uninterrupted performance, but by this stage one is waiting for the intrusion - yet it does not happen. Indeed, the closing track which follows these two, A Forgetting Place, is solo falsetto singing over a simple strummed guitar, and one returns to the opening tracks for the excitement of Craig's creative mix. So a debut album full of tease, and how sweet it is to be both so challenged and charmed.

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