James Murray follows last year's celebrated 'Killing Ghosts' with a new full-length album on Home Normal. Falling Backwards promises more of Murray's trademark hushed, creeping and haunting ambience but with an increased sense of intimacy this time. The record relates his personal childhood memories and speaks to catharsis through release. There's a definite emphasis on optimism here amongst the splintered yet linear melodies. A narrative of a naturally lit journey, made in plain sight.
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Yes, I liked ‘Killing Ghosts”, the last James Murray album which I had the considerable pleasure of reviewing back in the depths of Winter 2017; now, finally here’s another thing of crystalline-pure beauty. Falling Backwards reveals its charms immediately, its feathery fronds extending a chill welcome from the outset. Layers of electronic drones are backed with warm washes of colour and shimmering acoustic strings tremolo like tree branches swaying in the Autumn breeze, chords falling away in slow motion like tumbling golden leaves in shafts of late afternoon sunshine.
Murray made the record in response to childhood memories, of falling backwards not just metaphorically but literally. The young Murray would respond to perceived unfairness or lack of control, not with anger but by sitting still, bolt upright and then silently letting go; falling backwards and finding the ground, heavily… of course, he would more often than not hurt himself. Sometimes someone would catch him in time. These drawn-out drones offering up ghostly echoes of falls and their attendant variety of impacts would be affecting even if we weren’t aware of the back story.
Murray was reminded of his historic events when the tinnitus he began recently to experience prompted investigative brain scans, revealing tissue damage. Here, Murray revisits old descents in pin-sharp clarity and shares with us the nerve-stimulating anticipation of a crunch. Like he says: “It’s strange isn’t it, the things we do to cope”.
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