Sunday, 28 October 2018

Trent Halliday - Paper Lights, album review

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I first came across multi-instrumentalist Trent Halliday in his Three Days Dark alias and the album Somewhere a Band Plays reviewed here. If you read you’ll see how much I enjoyed, so it is obviously of interest to hear this mainly instrumental release, not least when Halliday refers to his influences as Terry Riley and Steve Reich, the former a firm favourite [well, many would state that] and hearing loops and repetitions in this album’s opener Rainmaker where the personal nuance is having these recurring from a played acoustic guitar, a touch to the basics I also like. This is expanded on the second track Standing on the Back of a Whale where guitar again provides a foundation, and an ‘odd’ instrument [a mini digital accordion, or similar?] that sets a very specific kind of minimalism, that is until the track makes its inherent expansion into a choric fill. There are ‘Spanish’ influences here too, it seems to me, in the rhythms and ‘handclaps’, an eerie fireworks background-of-sound – the danger perhaps in trying too hard to name rather than just listen. The repetition in this is a hypnotic, climatic drive to the end.

As well as individual artists who have inspired Halliday [and a reference to Sufjan Stevens informs the work of Three Days Dark] he also describes how ‘the album is minimalist inspired, cinematic, orchestral-folk, with lots of acoustic instrumentation and some electronic touches’. It is also playful, I think, in the way for example The Animal Orchestra is carnival-esque, with Folklore Radical taking a further tangent to a more percussive sound but within this a cowboy-esque sense of pace – I can’t explain further though I see here the cinematic equivalent of a horse racing across a prairie [?] though this then suddenly opens out into Riley territory at its close.

Then Constellation returns us to the acoustic guitar as the prime instrument, flamingo influences performed in the clear expertise of Halliday’s playing – this too seguing to its electronic phase where the guitar and the light percussive backdrop are lopped onwards, and then returns to the acoustic core. I think this amalgam of live playing and ‘electrifying’ works well, and is picked up in the following guitar-driven title track [with sweet vocal chorus] Paper Lights.

There are further ranges and ranging, all patterned to repeating as a key methodology. For those more inclined to the wholly electronic, penultimate Shallows provides this flavouring in the overall signature recipe.

Paper Lights is a full musical meal to be savoured. You can get it here.

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