Friday, October 21, 2016
Ian William Craig - Centres (2016)***
For fans of: Sigur Rós, Dead Can Dance, Richard Youngs
"Ian William Craig is a trained operatic vocalist who combines his voice with analogue synthesizers, reel-to-reel machines, and faulty tape decks to create sublime cascades of unpredictable decay and beauty. His music engages with the operatic and orchestral, submerging them under a shifting palette of vocal improvisations, analogue tape hiss and billowing clouds of erasure. As well as a talented musician, Craig is an award-winning printmaker. Originally from Edmonton, he began playing live under his own name in 2010 in Vancouver, where he currently works at the University of British Columbia running the printmaking studio for the fine arts department. Though classically trained and grounded in the choral tradition, Craig’s early albums were concentrated predominantly around the piano, with his voice merely a marginal presence. In recent years, however, his practice has come to focus increasingly around his powerful voice, as can again be witnessed on 'Centres'.
Fundamentally distressed yet texturally lush, 'Centres' is an immensely deep, rich and rewarding listen. It was recorded in an assortment of studio and other locations across his Vancouver hometown – in concert halls and classrooms, train-yards and live rooms, as well as Craig’s own home – and created using a mixture of sources: synthesizer, Hammond organ, guitar, accordian, wire recorder, loop station, Craig’s array of re-purposed vintage reel-to-reels and an 18 deck 'cassette choir'.
Continually honing and pushing this process, the album shows a thoroughly brilliant attention to textural detail. Morphing, swirling, scouring, shimmering, it continually expands and contracts around you. Forging a harmonically gorgeous and utterly immersive listening experience, it pulls you from the rousing, slow-build of the opening 'Contain (Astoria Version)' through the standout 'A Single Hope' with its huge bass and Hammond organ swells, into shifting cloud-zones of 'Drifting to Void on All Sides' or 'Power Colour Spirit Animal', around the Nico-esque accordion opening of 'The Nearness', and back to the cyclical ending of 'Contain (Cedar Version)', one of the cleanest and sparest tracks here – pared back to the purity of a single voice and guitar." - 130701