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CD Feature/ Jonathan Coleclough & Andrew Liles: "Torch Songs"

img  Tobias

Artists usually placed in the “Torch Song” tradition include Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf and – if you’re looking for some slighly more contemporary examples - Morrissey and Elvis Costello. This must be the first time, then, that two artist from the drone sector have decided to add their compositions about unrequited love and the desire to possess what can never be one’s own to the long list of standards. What seems like a contradiction in terms at the outset has turned into an almost sacral collection of – well not songs, but something of the sort anyway.

While some not too obvious collaborations yield interesting results despite their inner tensions, this one works because the styles of Jonathan Coleclough and Andrew Liles, regardless of how different and idiosyncratic in their own right they may be, virtually screamed for a symbiosis. On the one hand you have Coleclough, who has only last year celebrated his tenth aniversary as a recording artist with a total of 15 releases and created a niche of his own with a music which originates in the quotidian and subliminates into something alltogether out of the ordinary: The bonus disc to this double LP of two heavy 180g Vinyl records sees him in live action at the “Intergration 3” festival, a concert which incidentally also forms the backbone to some of the tracks to be found here, and documents how he starts with the sounds of various outwardly unspectacular objects and slowly changes their timbre and functionality in a process which takes them into a mysterious yet never depressive space. Liles, on the other hand, has been one of those artists who have allowed multiple influences to penetrate the texture of his highly atmospheric pieces, making him almost unpredictable and lending his work an air of excitment. For “Torch Songs”, he concentrates on the deep sonorities, the physical frequencies and the parts of the spectrum where everything becomes opaque, blurry and intellectually intangible. His drones are either subliminally massive or so evanescent as to appear almost weightless and disturbingly fog-like: They will give way if you walk through them, but there are dangers lurking with each step. Coleclough’s very direct object treatments contrast with these meditative fields in a hypnotic fashion, focussing the listener’s attention while the impending pulsations do their job in feverishly massaging the unconscious. The element of water appears again and again as a sort of guideline, seperating segments of almost absolute vacuum from each other and mellowing the atmosphere, when the intensity reaches its climax. But at the end it is only incomprehendible whispers that remain, rowing the boat across the Styx into the night.

There are no lyrics on any of these songs and even the poem by Geoff Sawers printed on the front, back and inner sleeve of this luxurious gateway cover offers no direct link to the aforementioned tradition. So what makes these pieces qualify as love songs nevertheless? By their very obsession with the unattainable, with places one can not inhabit and material things one can not touch, they, too, are filled with an insatiable longing, which knows no hope for fulfillment. It is dark, it is cold and no one is going to carry that torch for you. That is what this record is about and that is something Billy Holiday could have related to in her most desperate hours.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Jonathan Coleclough
Homepage: Andrew Liles
Homepage: Die Stadt Records

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