Essential albums: Andrew Heath

It's the clarity of Heath's soundscapes that's really striking; the textures are are not fuzzy as if filtered through gauze. His sound paintings are crystal clear - even when suggesting some blurry reminiscence - a remarkable achievement of uncluttered composition and painstaking sound design.

artist:
Andrew Heath

country of origin:
UK

style(s):
environmental ambient, impressionist, landscape, experimental

decades active:
2010's-2020's

essential releases:

  • The Silent Cartographer (2014, Disco Gecko)
  • Flux (2015, Disco Gecko)
  • Europa (2016, Disco Gecko)
  • A Gift for the Ephemerist (2019, Rusted Tone)

Reviewed by Mike G

Toby Marks aka Banco De Gaia, whose ethno-techno downtempo helped define a new genre in the 90's, more recently started issuing music by other artists on his Disco Gecko label. He has an open-ended vision for what the label should sound like, with quality eclipsing any rigid adherence to a particular style. Evidence of that is these ambient releases Brit composer Andrew Heath.

Heath's debut album The Silent Cartographer (2014)  is environmental ambience of the highest order; quiet, immersive, intimate and subtly melodic. Flux (2015) and Europa (2016) complete an exceptional trilogy. It's the clarity of Heath's soundscapes that's really striking; the textures are are not fuzzy as if filtered through gauze like, say, Brian Eno's classic On Land (1982). Heath's sound paintings are crystal clear - even when suggesting some blurry reminiscence - a remarkable achievement of uncluttered composition and painstaking sound design. The source sounds are a mix of acoustic and electronic; droning, arcing, glistening synthesisers, tinkling piano figures, location recordings and sprinklings of random sound effects. For reference points, Eno as well as Ishq and Tetsu Inoue are useful but limited signposts to what his music sounds and feels like. I've listened to it on both chilly nights and blisteringly hot days with equal effect; it's natural and urban environmental music that's not too literal and lets you paint your own version of the place you'd rather be.

There has also been some collaborations. The best of them is A Gift For The Ephemerist (2019) with Dutch artist Anne Chris Bakker. It stands somewhat apart from the crystal-clear sound paintings of his solo releases in that it sometimes sounds a bit fuzzy, a bit foggy, but no less seductive. The album’s centrepiece is the 18-minute mini-epic “Waddenzee”, named after a wetlands reserve on the coast of the northern Netherlands where the album was recorded. It’s a masterfully realised sequence of shifting moods, ranging from warm new age-style organs and synths to dark drones of cellos and distorted guitar evoking a frozen landscape.

Share this:
Share