The most common comment made about instrumental music is that it “sounds like a soundtrack”. Some of Steve Gibbs & Cyrus Reynolds‘ music already is a soundtrack, gracing the entrancing short film “Where am I”. David Dang’s film makes a great advertisement for the duo: they’ve already proven they can get it done. Jumping head-first into the territory occupied by Keith Kenniff and ‘Olafur Arnalds, Gibbs and Reynolds hold their own and more, helped in great part by a seven-piece string orchestra. There’s no substitute for the real thing. In Passing is instrumentally lush and genuinely emotive; it may only be an EP, but it makes a lovely introduction to the work of this up-and-coming pair.
Returning to the short video for a moment, there’s no question that the music aids the weight of the narrative. (The voiceover is not present on the track itself.) But it might also be said that the narrative and the visuals aid the weight of the music. The crucial question is, “How does the music fare on its own?” The answer is simple: it holds its own. When called upon to operate as foreground, “Where Am I” (distinguished from the film by its capital “A”) impresses with its clear development, marked by a miked piano and a duet between the keys and strings.
Other tracks touch upon the world of electronics, especially the closing of “After”, which adopts a drum machine and slightly distorted synths. The more subtle these effects, the more impressive, as Gibbs and Reynolds are clearly more classically minded than they are electronically-minded. Not that the beats are bad; they’re just not the duo’s strength. The percussion is put to its best use in the title track: 40 seconds used to enhance the song’s power just before the conclusion. To restate the matter, when one has four violins, two violas and two cellos at one’s disposal, the addition of programmed drums is unnecessary. The power of the EP’s best track, “Reflection”, lies in its composition and performance; electronics provide but a stuttered echo.
We expect to hear much more from this duo in the months to come. They present a double threat of film and stand-alone work; we’re eager to hear what happens next. (Richard Allen)