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My Friday morning malaise is immediately broken by a quick glance at the press release and a realisation that this is the work of David Sheppard (Phelan/Sheppard/Ellis Island Sound/State River Widening/Mojo journo and a man whose surname I am simply unable or unwilling to spell). Anyone who has heard the Phelan/Sheppard album ‘Harps Old Master’ will know that the man is capable of great things. And so is proven here.
The album is a vehicle for instrumental pieces based around xylophones, glockenspiels, vibraphones and other mallet instruments but also has gorgeous strings courtesy of the guy from Ochre. Its beautifully realised and Sheppard really has the melodic key. The ghost of Moondog is everywhere but I’m also reminded of the compositions of Leeds very own Gareth S Brown (a man once described memorably by a man in Harrogate as the best English composer since Mike Oldfield). They share the way in which the mallet-like sounds are combined with gorgeous swooping melodies to create alarmingly melodic, heartfelt compositions that recall the best bits of Yann Tiersen’s soundtrack work and the repetition of Philip Glass.
Track two ‘Atoll’ stuns with the sweetest of glockenspiel sharing space with a really impressive string arrangement. Throughout the album the jittery percussive instruments create an ever changing backdrop for the tracks which rely on simple, melodic chord progression, whether on string, synth or other padded sounds. Its a really stunning record and any fan of Moondog or Philip Glass should have their wallet at the ready.
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