Eleven years out of releasing music, Saul Freeman brings us 'Wait: Speak', a testament to patience and precision. In that time, he's all but forgotten his station, reverting to a blank slate where he can create anything -- gone are the electronic innovations that used to be his prowess, and in their place are instrumental works fashioned out of guitars and pianos, with plenty of ornamenting arrangements. Hear Freeman rise from his slumber and carry on playing.
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"I'm the musician who turned down Madonna," says Saul Freeman, as if he's the only one. His no doubt satisfying opportunity to spurn the material girl came in the early 2000s, when she approached him about writing together because she was a fan of his trip-hop duo Mandalay with singer Nicola Hitchcock, who squeezed out a couple of long-players before a falling-out caused them to split on the verge of success. Before that he was in the duo Thieves with a certain David McAlmont, but a falling-out around the time of the completion of their album led to it being released simply as "McAlmont".
Realising he may not be the collaborating type, Freeman holed himself up for the last 11 years working on a wildly different solo follow-up to these poppy early efforts, 'Wait: Speak', a graceful album of understated and mostly instrumental pieces full of subtle electronics and the earthy physical tones of piano, trumpet, violin and guitar. Opening with the Poppy Ackroyd-ish piano plinking and understated ambient drones of 'It Ain't Over...', the album gracefully unfolds through 14 tracks of obsessively detailed textures, hazy sound manipulation, organic-sounding melodies, stumbling rhythmic loops, blurry drones and wordless vocals into a compelling and well balanced mixture of cerebral soundscapes and heartstring-tugging musicality that's probably best enjoyed on headphones in the middle of the night.
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