Ian Hawgood‘s second January collaboration is far different from his first. Although the music is still ambient, and the cover art (Eirik Holmøyvik) equally stunning, this duo’s sonic palette has been expanded to include field recordings and electronics. Where Faintly Recollected is mournful, Consequence Shadows is dark, as if uneasy thoughts about the world have come to roost.
The cover image displays a naturally corroded sculpture set far enough from shore as to discourage visitors. Salt has eked away the innards of the rock; droppings have decorated its walls. And yet, despite such damage, the stone exudes the strength of perseverance. Such is the tone of the release as well, the piano of “Only Microns” offering the first indication that not every imagining is foreordained. While electronics rattle and hum in the background, the ivory notes shine through, undefeated. There are consequences to our actions, yes ~ but they need not all be shadows.
It’s nigh impossible to separate the work of the composers, as both operate in the electro-acoustic realm; Giulio Aldinucci‘s last album was the ACL-honored Borders and Ruins, but none of the tracks here possess such density. Instead, one gains the sense of being in for the long haul, whatever comes. This is what makes the voice at the center of the album such a surprise: many of the words bubble beneath the surface, but those that emerge say thank you, thank you.
When the two versions of “Other Ashes” are combined (the original and the Stijn Hüwels rework), they outlast the entirety of Faintly Recollected. Tiny tones stutter and stumble along with the footfalls of the field recordist. The impression is that of entering a barren land and poking about, searching for things to salvage. Perhaps, in the wake of a horrible year, the item most needed is hope. As the dark album progresses to a lighter end, it seems that a remnant may have been found: enough to build on, to glue to other pieces, to cast consequence lights. The Home Normal label is generally known for its beauty, not its darkness, and even in this shadowed moment, it turns its eyes to the sun. (Richard Allen)