Ian Holloway goes the solo route on his tribute to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, where he makes his home. One can imagine him walking the beach, picking up driftwood, righting an upside-down turtle, searching the tidal pools for octopi and starfish. Or perhaps he is picking up garbage, starting angrily at the sea.
While field recordings are incorporated, they occupy the back pages. At the fore rests an ambient reflection of cycle and hum. When one lives next to the ocean for a long time, one begins to view even violent interruptions – epitomized by the thunder crackle of “Wash”, the terrified scramble of “The Grey Wake” – as temporal events. The sea will reclaim its own, but tends to recede to its former boundaries. The title track bears this out as it surges forward, then retreats into silence again and again, ranging in tone from ominous to calming. Holloway refers to sound and source as These Clockwork Tides – reliable, yet relentless. His piano stays in the lower register, as if to plumb the unimaginable depths.
Half of the album is saved for the closing track, “Firelight”. This piece drops drone as its anchor while using tone as its ship. Sparse guitar notes provide the early adornment; spectral electronics imitate the rocking of the hull. But background becomes foreground as the human sounds sink into the mire. An unusual pulse is allowed to repeat. Dark chords clutch the main deck, lift themselves aloft and run rampant. As the ship begins to sink, Poseidon lifts his trident in cold-eyed anticipation. If this dark ambient stunner was the album’s only track, it would still make the visit worthwhile. For thogh we slepe or wake, or rome, or ryde, Ay fleeth the tyme; it nil no man abyde. (Richard Allen)