With Cyanometry, we add another to our ever-growing list of 2012’s new labels. The launching of Tessellate Recordings is a huge encouragement. As major labels flounder, there’s never been a better time for small, solid achievements, and as we welcome each new contender, we cheer a little inside.
Spheruleus is Harry Towell, the head of the Audio Gourmet label label and half of Paper Relics. Tessellate Recordings is his latest venture. Leaving no room for error, he takes matters into his own hands for the label’s first release. Cyanometry is a concept album, but the concept is easy to grasp once one understands the title. A cyanometer is “a circular measuring instrument made from graduating shades of blue, created to measure the blueness of the sky (based on) the amount of suspended particles in the atmosphere”. Horace Benedict de Saussore’s 1700’s invention inspired Towell to muse on such gradations and create this body of work. The titles preserve the concept: “Blue Cast”, “Scattered Light”, “Suspended Particles”, “A Grey End To A Blue Day”. The mood and tone are blue as well; not a Miles Davis sort of blue, but a blue particular to the British countryside and the contemplative mind.
Cyanometry is a soft, layered mulch in which fragments and melodies demonstrate subtle movement like shifts in the color spectrum. The most obvious layer is the music, a combination of the obvious (piano, keyboards, guitar) and the distinctive (dudek, bugle, harmonica, ukulele). But while one is attempting to follow the micro-melodies, one is also aware of shyer sources hiding beneath the music: field recordings (bicycle wheels, crackling ice) and a darkening glaze of vinyl, static and muted transmissions. These multiple layers lend the album a mysterious depth, producing the effect of shades behind shades, clouds behind clouds, blues and not-quite blues struggling for primacy. Without a cyanometer, one might fail to discern the moment each segment tips softly into the next. The thickness created by the bottom-most layer – the interference of radio waves and half-heard conversations – allows the listener to imagine the diffusion of light via the diffusion of sound.
Cyanometry is a wondering blue, the type of blue that flirts with definition but changes its nature with the winds. This unique recording reignites our fascination with the treasures of the skies. During the final two minutes, one needs to strain to catch the fading crackles. The final gift is a child’s melody, accompanied by a the sound of a bicycle wheel. We may be grown, but finding joy in color is a toddler’s excited discovery, lost in later years but never forgotten. (Richard Allen)
Release date: July 12