Toad Records front this new record from the impressive Adam Stafford. Stafford claims influence from American minimalist composers as well as the likes of Meredith Monk and Michael Gordon for Fire Behind The Curtain. They come through on expertly crafted numbers such as ‘Zero Disruption’, a piece that fuses the arrangements of Sufjan Stevens, the sensibilities of Richard Dawson and guitar work similar to Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.
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To celebrate Phil's 50th whinge about the fact that I've not reviewed it I decided to finally sit down and give this album a listen....and you know what...he's right. This record shouldn't go unnoticed.
Adam Stafford's compositions sit in that perfect place (to my ears anyway) where the minimalist repetition of the likes of Steve Reich and Phillip Glass are utilised to create bold and colourful and highly melodious compositions. This is an album of deliciously sinewy neo-classical pieces which are unafraid to make big sweeping statements. For example on 'Zero Disruption' the instruments build and in comes a choir and it almost reaches Arcade Fire levels of grandiosity. But don't let that put you off... 'Fire Behind the Curtain' is generally a lovely piece of work. Using all manner of chamber instruments, Stafford builds up layers of melody and unusual pairings of instruments combine to create a mesh of sound. For example on 'Search Into the Night' it took me a few minutes to realise that those chiming things were the common or garden electric guitar. Blended with strings they seemed somehow more exotic. There's a hint of the post rock of Mogwai in tracks like 'The Witch Hunt' where Stafford dares to use beatboxing as a rhythm track.
Later pieces show a discordance missing from the first part of the LP but even here on the clanging, clanking 'Invade They Say Fine' there are beautiful cellos to keep things grounded. Strangely as the album wears on it gets less pretty and both 'Museum of Grinding Dicks' and 'Holographic Tulsa Mezzanine' are hard work for the ears but.....good because we have enough soporific pretty albums to last us a lifetime and life is harsh and difficult and not always nice.
It's a great record - it's textures follow the patterns of other modern day composers like Snow Palms, Gareth S Brown, Littlebow, Manyfingers in taking the ideas of Moondog and the aforementioned Reich and Glass and marrying them to what we have learnt from the dynamics of post-rock.
Several stellar moments. Please don't let this slip by.
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- Fire Behind The Curtain by Adam Stafford
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