Ian Hawgood + Danny Norbury ~ Faintly Recollected

One of the privileges of music writing is receiving music before release, and allowing it to sink in over time.  This transporting 33-minute piece has proven its worth over the long lead-up to the holidays and the long silence of its wake.  While listeners have the option of separating the album into tracks, they are all part of a fuller piece, designated by the Roman numerals I-VII.  But to break the album into segments is to do it a disservice.  In the middle of bustle, it provides an alternative; in the midst of inactivity, it offers peace.

The timing is fortuitous, as the world looks back on the year that has just passed.  Faintly Recollected may refer to many things: the fading of cherished memories, the putting aside of unwelcome thoughts, or the joy of lasting impressions, even when the details have been smudged.  The long path on the cover (Eirik Holmøyvik’s “Black Road”) may be dark, but it’s straight.  If this is the road ahead, it may not be that bad; yet if it’s the road behind (as suggested by the title), it may be bittersweet, the blurred background suggesting the vast treasures of the deep subconscious.

The music is melancholy, thoughtful and slow.  Every note takes its time.  Danny Norbury‘s cello is in turn mournful and thankful.  One wonders if the album is inspired by loss.  But then the chimes enter – first at the quarter mark and again at the half.  These have a soothing effect, implying deep spirituality that is not restricted to any particular religion.  When they first leave, they are missed; when they are gone again, their memory is cherished all the more, because the listener was not sure they would visit a second time.  Perhaps this is how it is with memories, embraced all the more if they have been faintly recollected.  The final third offers an even deeper experience of peace, as a subtle drone inhabits the sonic scenery, allowing the other elements to fade.  This combination allows for the softest possible landing, a consolation of sorts, a reminder of the beauty that is as opposed to the beauty that was.  Both have value, but when one fades, the other is an unexpected blessing.  (Richard Allen)

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