Tony Young doesn’t waste any time. This new album is his third full-length album in less than three years, in addition to the appearance of a remix album earlier this year. The good thing is that it isn’t simply “more of the same”, but a distinct evolution and indeed in some cases is a move into previously uncharted waters.
Opener Casually Losing Selected Memories spends it’s first two minutes or so purely piano-based, to beautiful effect, before a complex beat pattern adds a little meat to the bones, and other elements are gradually added to the mix. All For You reminds me in some ways of the classic Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack – a similar beat pattern and string samples, in addition to the wordless vocal effects – but either way it is a striking and wholly unexpected sound to find here.
The Essential Condition keeps the idea of string samples, but coupled with a very complex beat indeed, that seems to be a number of beat patterns all overlaid. The slightly off-kilter effect this makes is great – and seems to make the track sound darker than it actually is. Chinks of light are let in, though, by again impressive use of a mournful sounding piano.
The big surprise of the album comes with All Long Black Spirals, though. Shredding guitars (supplied by Jamie Blacker from ESA) tear through a brutal beat, and the whole thing brings to mind the heady days of WaxTrax! from the nineties. That is, until the ambience of the interlude in the middle of the track that threatens to tear the heart out of such a promising sound, but happily the WaxTrax! stylings return in the end, indeed with the guitars pushed right to the forefront.
This IDM-meets-old school industrial continues into We Shatter Sometimes, with sampled guitars that sound naggingly familiar, and more of that fantastic piano effect. Tiny Matters brings us back to more of the earlier pattern – shuffling beats, pianos, etc – so let’s skip past that and move onto It’s Indifference. Another track with some impressively complicated rhythm programming, when this track settles down a little to a seriously-retro sounding middle, it almost feels at points to be channeling the spirit of Kraftwerk and other electro pioneers.
Hell Is The Face Of Love – featuring bass work by Dave Pybus from Cradle of Filth, of all people – brings the funk, kinda, to good effect, and like a number of the tracks here feels like at least two distinct tracks rolled into one at points, as ideas ebb and flow into each other, and the track ends up sounding somewhat different from how it started.
This Stranger Hope, seems, in a way, to be a reprisal of All For You – certainly it shares a number of characteristics with the earlier track, and is also notable for the strange, cut-to-ribbons vocal samples that crop up through it. However the track really takes off when a huge string sample sweeps in out of nowhere, taking the track to a whole new emotional level.
Dark, forbidding strings dominate Trails Without Pathways, a track you could imagine as the soundtrack to some apocalyptic film, while closer Six Minutes To Live has a sweeping grandeur to it that is hard to describe, but again might work nicely in a film – obviously as part of the closing credits somewhere.
As an example of technical ability, this album is streets ahead of it’s predecessors, and indeed Tony’s willingness to experiment here with new sounds and new structures has paid enormous dividends in providing an album that is much, much more listenable and enjoyable as a whole, too. This isn’t to say the previous albums were bad – far from it – it’s just that this is such a leap forward that it forces you to reassess what came before.