Norman Records

A Norman Records recommendation, 5/5

The photograph of Scafell Pike on the digipak of this CD takes me back to a terrifying nights camping up near a tarn just below the summit where a storm hit and myself and a couple of mates had to batten down the hatches for fear of our lives. The occasional toilet outing also involved an occasional peek outside to find a view very similar, with bleak battleship grey skies, howling wind and horizontal rain. As a visual it sets the scene well for the audio created over a six year period from this member of Rameses III. The seven tracks have been split into three movements which document the artist's emotional state at various points - depression, slow recovery and finally grace. Bearing this in mind and listening to opener 'Dark House Walk' it's clear that Daniel was battling some demons at the time of its creation as it's an incredibly blackened piece which shows zero signs of a way out. The overall effect is claustrophobic to say the least. A feeling that continues into the dark throbbing drones of 'Staring Into Black Water'. For me the sound of water in its many states and in particular the sea evokes many feelings. Having grown up on an island I would often find solace in the sound of the waves. It would appear Daniel also likes to become introspective to these sounds (as I'm sure many people do) with the inclusion of beach recordings from Padstow, Cornwall. The addition of these recordings really complete the piece adding a very chilling dynamic. As things unfold over the twenty five minute duration it's like a journey into Daniel's frame of mind at that particular time, the effect is of feeling lost and alone and is incredibly powerful.

'The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself' begins the second movement with fast, intricate synthesized (possibly??) percussion and icy chimes. It recalls a Coil track that I know but cannot remember its name. There's a distant sense of hopelessness dissolving into the background while the overall emerging tone is uplifting and ready for change, happiness is almost within grasp. 'The Might Of Angels' with its looped violin phrase almost feels like being touched by the divine. The image I'm given when I close my eyes is one of a cadaver being given mouth to mouth resuscitation by a ghostly blue angel, breathing new life into a mortal shell. Then comes 'The Devil Would Steal Your Joy' which is really amazing with its distorted darkside drones and disembodied vocals which really threaten to pull things right back into the darkness of the abyss but then the juxtaposition of heavenly dulcimer denies them their want and steers things away from what feels like a genuine threat of regression.

Moving forward we land at the first part of the third movement with 'Elegy And Rapture (For Margaret)' Which is touchingly dedicated to Daniel's late mother. This is a profoundly moving piece of music on many levels. 'Staring Into The Light' is as expected a stark contrast to the sounds that first introduced the album. The gentle distant melodies speak like a huge weight has been lifted off of Daniel's shoulders. To be clear things are not all upbeat and party vibes. That's not this chap's style. What is very apparent though is there has been a major transition from where the album first began with gorgeous Rhodes keys that sparkle and retreat into the distance.

Ultimately the audio documents Daniel's six year journey from darkness into the light and is a tale of the challenges and struggles that we all face at some point in our lives. It is the story of being human and how art and creativity can be therapeutic and healing. Fortunately Daniel emerged on the other side. The power of this album is that we must never lose hope and that at the end of every tunnel comes the light. Highly recommended.

Friday 24 June 2011

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