A Closer Listen tends to be positive in its reviews, so sometimes it’s difficult to tell what we like the most. This page highlights the releases we have on repeat.
Neal Cowley ~ Battery Life (Mote)
Memories, like batteries, have positive and negative sides. Neil Cowley cautiously explores his own cache of supressed memories in this fascinating and rich portrayal of what it means to be alive in a world where we’re ever more aware of the fragility of truth. Can our memories be relied upon? Who are we? Cowley explores these questions in a compelling, gently dancable, occasionally melancholic fashion. An album to keep coming back to.
Hollie Kenniff ~ We All Have Places That We Miss (Western Vinyl)
The title says it all; we are united in sorrow. We’re older now; we’ve suffered losses; the pandemic only exacerbated what was already in motion. We look back with nostalgia and hiraeath, unable to distinguish the two. Kenniff gives (wordless) voice to this weight in compositions so pure and light they alleviate the pressure.
Eldbjørg Hemsing, Arctic Philharmonic ~ Arctic (Sony Classical)
Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing tackles the works of numerous Nordic composers on Arctic, which celebrates the majesty of the region while making a plea for its preservation. The centuries-spanning compositions work as one, a testimony to the arrangements and performances. This one may receive mainstream recognition, and if so, it’s well-deserved.
Hammock ~ Love In the Void (Hammock Music)
The album is every bit as good as we thought it would be when we made Love In the Void our top pick of the winter slate. The surprise is the timbre, which switches smoothly between shoegaze and post-rock. Hammock has gently reinvented itself, producing a testament that feels as hard-earned as its backstory suggests.
Cicada ~ Seeking the Sources of Streams (flau)
One of 2023’s earliest releases is also one of its best, a spiritual quest in literal and aural form. The ensemble hiked deep into the Hinoki forest, seeking the sources of streams, and found themselves renewed. The journey is scored through cold, crisp piano and warm strings, a tribute to the cycles of nature and the passage of time.