27th June 2017

REVIEW: Minimalist music that thumps you in the chest

Sometimes music catches you off guard with an unapologetic thump in the chest.

Listening to Lewis Hall’s debut album with its minimalist piano progressions and experimental electronica, there’s room for reflection and time to think.

Even listening in a busy newsroom with the clatter of keyboard keys, hitting play and plugging in the headphones offers some respite and immersion in Hall’s compositions.

For the main, Murmur features the young pianist and Mareel’s grand piano, though creeping dissonance and augmentation of the sound of piano strings comes from a flirtation with more obscure effects.

It’s an album not to be rushed and demands attention, and, as a listener I found myself picking out the spaces between the keys and the subtleties of tone and resonance.

Hall has already had some of his work paired with film locally and there’s a cinematic quality to his writing – Einaudi, and Thomas Newman are the immediate comparisons that jump out of the recordings.

Opening track I sets out Hall’s stall perfectly, with the chitter chatter of folk in Mareel and a developing piano motif that ebbs and flows above synthesised drones.

The comforting, calming vocal tones of Matthew Adam feature midway through the record. Adam himself has been performing more of his own material of late. Lyrically Rise Rest speaks of the power of the waves and the sea, and torments of life and love.

Young composer Lewis Hall. Photo: Liam Henderson

 

Hannah Adamson’s fiddle playing breaks up the structure of the CD nicely, meaning there’s something different in the offering for each piece.

Leensun is where Adamson’s fiddle playing is most prominent, twisting and turning with the melody as if caught by the howling wind and cast above the shoreline.

Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and the “reality” we can create for ourselves on a screen are the norm for many folk these days. Though Hall’s music gives an opportunity to break from all of that and breathe.

 

I just wish I could listen to it on CD with a coffee and some proper speakers.

Hall’s album launch is on 22nd June at Quarff Hall. I’ll be away reporting on the Island Games by then. Maybe someone can stick the kettle on when I return.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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