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CD Feature/ Martyn Bates & Troum: "To a Child Dancing in the Wind"

img  Tobias

Many people have called this an unexpected collaboration and from a purely stylistic point of view it is: Martyn Bates, of genre-defying duo Eyeless in Gaza teaming up with Bremen’s finest Troum, whose live performances, select releases and own label have basically coined the term and general understanding of drone music today, bring together two different worlds. And yet, looking at it from a personal point of view, it is more than logical.

After all, Bates has always been both weary of and excited about working with other artists. Eyeless in Gaza split for years because of his expressed desire to walk alone, only to be followed by projects with Anne Clark and various band constellations. His eternal fear of parts of his work becoming “invisible” in the context of someone else’s contributions may actually have paved the way for “To a Child...”. Here, his warm and longing voice is free to jump the tonal ladder like a weightless spirit, to float in and out of cathedral resonances and dry spaces and to hover high above the wirlwind of Troum’s dense atmospherics – and it is always right inside the storm’s eye, never in danger of loosing its message. All the same, a mere 38 minutes of music and only six tracks (of which the final one is a reprise of the opening) over the course of a two-year correspondence point either towards a lazy and free-wheeling creative process or a difficult one with lots of material being discarded or only little being realised at all. The sometimes claustrophobic nature of this album seems to suggest the latter, even though the result has definitely not turned out forced or unnatural but rather extremely varied. In the shorter pieces of the album’s middle section, warm waves wash the shores of Bates concentrated and unexerted singing, apocalyptic mad-man’s harp-delays clash with fiery hummings and almost evanescent miniatures stand side by side with the sweetly melancholic title track. All of this, however, is reduced to the sideline, as the opening thirteen minutes of the majetically growing and then forever phasing out “Mad as the wind and snow” grab all attention, as the sometimes disillusioned, occasionally angry, mostly however sadly resigning lyrics melt into landscapes of deep string layers, balalaika rushes and accordion dabbers.

All texts come courtesy of W. B. Yeats and their intense imagery is well-adjusted to the surreal and longing nature of Troum’s compositions. Thanks to its concise length, “To a Child dancing in the wind” is an open invitation to leave everything else be and dedicate one’s time to the music alone. It is also a tightly-knit encounter of two worlds, which prove to be different – but not adversary.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Troum
Homepage: Troum at MySpace
Homepage: Martyn Bates/Eyeless in Gaza
Homepage: Transgredient Records/Drone Records

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