Andrew Lahiff, a composer of ambient, space and electronic music, started to make his music available via the web in 2002. This is his nineteenth release, and his first to be issued on the Pocket Fields netlabel.
Andrew opens the album with “An Image of the Earth”, which glides in and pins the listener into a space between bass and high treble. Liquid notes flow across the room, burbling and gurgling gorgeously as the track opens out. Little high notes dance elegantly above huge organic pads, evoking the beauty of the earth’s globe balanced perfectly in space. Next, “Oak, Snow and Ice” finds us in winter, but with a warm glow from the sun, even in this cold. The use of the stereo soundfield here is vibrant and engaging. Gentle metallic coils suspend themselves above reverb-laden pads, which become notes, which become pads again.
Track three, “The Dream Lives Forever”, is the album’s longest, running to eleven minutes. It’s very enigmatic. Moving slowly, and almost with hesitation, it shifts across long spans of scintillating synth chords in a soft ambient swathe. This is truly ethereal and sublime music. In “Alpine Glaciers”, gentle drips of melting iceflows tap away at the surface below, as we observe the endless conversion of ice to water. Cold, yet with an ever-beating heart of warmth inside.
“Stones and Ornaments” places us among both forgotten and remembered objects. A sense of nostalgia is ever present, but it’s almost as though we’re not sure what it is that we’re trying to remember. Stones and ornaments can be one and the same, but there is internal conflict in the music about which of those we see. In “Cliffs at the Edge of Time”, there’s a sense of unease and foreboding. This piece isn’t dark, but it seems to be full of questions about the future. Crackles ripple off to the left and right, and the structured centre tries to halt that fragmentation with a long, shifting pad which appears and recedes again, and is gone.
The final third of “Quiet Correlations” starts with “New Beginnings”, a tender piece which has just the right amount of yearning for the birth of something new. Never cloying, never over-seasoned, it’s life-affirming in a subtle, positive way. Something new is definitely upon us. “Luminous Approaches” begins as the edgiest piece on the album, heralding imminent changes which bring with them a degree of internal conflict. The instrumentation here is wonderful; everything is in exactly the right place. The highest notes of the music hang over us like a thin, gently moving canopy.
The penultimate track “Follow the Mountains” is somewhat mysterious. Long ambient pads stretch out, as far as we can know. The planet turns slowly, and distant creatures cry out in the night. There’s a sense of everything moving back into the right place – into correct, new-yet-familiar spaces. It’s disquieting, but not foreboding. The track closes with a repetitive synth trill which fades into silence.
For “Night on the Plateau”, we are left feeling chilly and bereft of shelter. Cold pads draw out in long voices. The noises of the unsettled night creatures continue; periodically, a bell rings as if to draw them ever closer. The album draws to a close with a seemingly unanswered question.
Andrew recently joined the roster of the wonderful Relaxed Machinery label, and his first release there is highly anticipated, both by the label and by this reviewer.