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CD Feature/ Paul Bradley: "Liquid Sunset"

img  Tobias

Time distortion may be an unpleasant sensation in everyday life, but with Paul Bradley it is an important apect of the unique allure of his music. While having virtually nothing “happen” on your albums is an insult to some, it is a virtue to him and even though there may be even more minimalist drone composers out there, Bradley has found a way to walk the invisible border line between almost inaudible breathings and deep, sonorous and emotional frequencies. “Liquid Sunset” is a good example for his approach and shows why many in the scene envy him for his craftsmanship – and why, despite the perfection he has achieved, his art remains by no means without controversy.

The criticism, which occasionally rears its head, mostly has to do with the shirt-sleeve mentality of some journalists, who insist on an artist having to struggle to find his own language and to wade through years of failure and rejection, before discovering his true calling. Bradley, however, has been embraced by fans of the genre right from the very first instance he set foot in it. Already his debut album bathed in pure primordial soup, the matter from which all of his later works would draw their inspiration. Nothing could be added to this music, nothing could be substracted. Suddenly, out of the blue, there it was and if it had been created by an 80-year old Nepalese monk after a lifetime experimenting with singing bowls and overtone chant, the press would have been ecstatic. As it is, Bradley lives and breathes in the UK and does not express his intuitive stance towards composing in haiku form, but in quotes like “I can appreciate a fine-looking woman without knowing how the nervous system works or a glass of beer without knowing how it was brewed.” The perfection he attained so early on in his career has also implied that his subsequent releases have not “pushed” the limit any further, but merely lit the scene from a different angle. On the other hand, do we really need this man to go against the grain to appreciate his music? If you take the pureness, simplicity and deepness of an album like “Liquid Sunset”, it would certainly seem like a brutal intrusion. On the first part of the journey, Bradley seagues different segments together by means of silence or minimalistic field recordings (a small camp fire? crackling paper?), each one similar, but with enough characteristics of its own to mark a new mood, a new space and a new opportunity to get lost entirely. Part two is sort of a short annex to the ceremonial and solemn opening, but it could just as well have been its ending. Pensive bass drones scoure the floor of the ocean, while the flourescent headlights of bizarely morphed ghost fishs mill short tunnels into a world of absolute darkness. Filter knobs turn and twist by their own accord, the world curves and undulates and everything looses its necessity.

When I first listened to “Liquid Sunset”, I estimated its running time at about 25-minutes. As it turned out, it was double that length, with the majestic “part one” clocking in at a vast 46 minutes. Such is the power of Bradley’s music, which uses its slow motion to catch the listener in an opium-atmosphered soap bubble drifting in a time gap between dawn and sunset. As to the repetitve nature of his CDs, one might add that watching him refine his vision is still any inch as fascinating as observing others trying to cover supposedly new ground.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Paul Bradley/ 20 hertz Records
Homepage: Paul Bradley on MySpace

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