The second time’s the charm for Timothy Fairless, as he follows last year’s 4-track, 27-minute EP with a 4-track, 29-minute EP. Measurement laid the groundwork for Plural, a unified work that could fall into any one of our seven categories, a rare achievement. Fairless’ background in film work is apparent throughout, but the post-rock overtones eventually dominate, especially on the opening and closing couplet, “Holograms (X)” and “Holograms (Y)”. It’s hard to encounter crescendoes such as these and to call them anything else.
And yet, those first few minutes … lovely ambient keys, joined by soft strings. For a time, the track totters on the brink of modern composition. But then the guitars come droning in, followed by the drums, and a three-note theme revisited in the closing track. According to Fairless, the album is about “the seemingly incongruent dynamic between repetition and evolution”. Knowing this, one begins to listen for repeated themes and small variations, the most apparent being the vibrating electronics of “X”s finale, like a signal trying to break through. “Y” provides no easy answers, launching with field recordings of beach and bird before providing a pulse to echo the earlier track’s vibrations. The initial interpretation is that the letters refer to chromosomes, although the timbres are reversed. Upon further reflection, it seems that they refer to mathematical formulas in which x is or is not equal to y. In the denouement, the strings follow the vibrations, while the guitars row patiently from the sea, docking two-thirds of the way in for only a short stay. One can look for larger themes: the commonality of human existence, or the ways in which perspective can affect interpretation; or one can simply enjoy the tracks. This is an album of flow.
The more straightforward “Fault Lines” is a slow builder whose percussion sets the stage for a melodic assault. At only six minutes, it’s the clear single. And yet still, midway through the piece, we hear the chimes that first appeared at 1:10 in the opening track and that will eventually close the disc: a sign that the composer is contemplating wider topics. Yet as it bleeds into the contemplative “Pollen”, the mind turns from discernment to surrender: a note can be worth a thousand words. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 21 August