Monday, 23 February 2009

CORY ALLEN – The Fourth Way

Quiet Design

After reading the press release’s depiction of The Fourth Way as “a collection of rich minimal ambient works” I was surprised to be greeted by a couple of pretty aggressive tracks such as “Exedra” and “Telepathic Solve”, constructed on acridness and interference more than relief-inducing signals and calming timbres. The latter piece gives a good idea of Cory Allen’s ability in attributing inherent movement to a static soundscape: restrained embryonic chords are practically engulfed by a continuous flow of radiations until they manage to emerge in the mix as glittering remnants of infatuation for an indefinable object of desire.

The instruments privileged by the composer are a Fender Rhodes (clearly at the basis of “In Search Of Miracul” and the beautifully nostalgic “All Suns”) and a Moog Voyager, with the “assistance” of a Moog ring modulator in some instance. The scenarios generated by these machines are then subjected to a sprinkling of “various software environments and raw computer data”. This prevents the music from becoming too sugary, keeping it sufficiently distant from the routines typical of many operators in this field. Two short episodes named “Chordata Analysis” contribute to lower the overall level of consonance through inhospitably noisy settings and ominous purrs.

The final “We Have Lots Of Time” – a title expressing a feeling which is exactly opposite to the one this writer is perennially burdened from – is possibly the album’s best, evoking atmospheres reminiscent of Thomas K├Âner and Christopher McFall while showcasing Allen’s original concept quite satisfactorily. It’s a worthy conclusion for a fine outing, a record that grows with each listen and – at least in my case – was better enjoyed without headphones.