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Troy Donockley and Dave Bainbridge

from silence

Review by Gary Hill

This CD from Donockley (best known for his work with Clannad) and Bainbridge (Iona) is an intriguing and unusual one for several reasons. First, all the material is improvised and recorded in one take with no overdubs. The second is the use of a recording technique called "binaural". This method uses microphones positioned in the ears of the recording engineer. The result is a sound that is more life like and captures more "positional" information than other more traditional forms of recording. For that reason the best way to listen to this album (for full effect) is with headphones.

As can be expected, much of the music here has a decidedly Celtic sound. The sound the two artists achieve is quite pretty and sedate. For those interested in music with a lot of changes, this one probably isn't for you. Still, for a nice relaxing listening experience this one works better than many in the genre.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
From Silence (Part One)
This comes in with sedate Celtic whistle. They move it upward ever so slowly. This one is pretty and effective, but grows in incredibly painstaking movements. After building it up in power and intensity, they drop it back to ambience to carry forward. They build it back up again. This one is definitely a pretty one, but doesn't really go anywhere.
From Silence (Part Two)
Piano and lush synthesizers begin this. As the piano builds the melody is beautiful and very evocative. The tin whistle brings in more somewhat Celtic tones as the duo begin moving this structure upward. The whistle starts taking on more Native American tones later. This one gets quite lush and powerful. While it isn't' really any more dynamic than the last one, the shorter length and powerful melodic elements keep it more vital.
From Silence (Part Three)
The most blatantly Celtic sounds thus far start this, the uilleann pipes carrying it by themselves for the first minute and a half. The keys eventually come in gradually as accompaniment to the pipes. It then begins another very gradual building process. This gets pretty powerful and loud at points, then drops back again to begin building back up once more in its slow and deliberate patterns. This eventually works its way back up the powerful and more bombastic. While the song is fairly strong, I think it could have benefited from a bit of editing, as it's a little constant for as long as it is.
From Silence (Part Four)
This one starts off with pretty picked bouzouki (that's what the credits say, but it sounds like guitar to me). This one is a nice change of pace, and exceptionally pretty. This one turns into a rocking, but still traditional sounding piece for one of the most dramatic passages on show. The binaural effects on this one are simply spectacular. This one is a highlight of the disc. A new movement later turns the cut into a powerful mode for a time before resolving down to mellower elements to carry forward and end.
From Silence (Part Five)
A gong begins this one and more pretty ambient Celtic tones move the track on. This progresses ever so slowly and gradually, but builds into a very lush and potent dramatic piece.
From Silence (Part Six)
Pretty guitar starts this. Then other textures begin to emerge overtop very slowly. This one is one f the more brief cuts on the disc. It's also very effective. It is one of the best on show here, and a good choice to end the CD.
 
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