British musician James Murray’s excellently-named Slowcraft label was initially created for his own work, but has branched out in recent years to include others. These three outstanding albums by three different artists show the fruits of that decision. They’re part of a new release series called Lifelines that offers ‘vital and consoling works’ in the spaces between mod classical, post rock and environmental noise.
Downstream Blue by film composer Mathieu Karsenti is probably my favourite of a fine bunch, peaking on the haunting “Loosen” with guitar and swirling strings grounded by a recurring cello motif that sounds like a voice humming a sad lament. Il Tempo Della Nostra Estate by Italian composer Federico Mosconi is a striking series of fuzzy, windy landscapes warmed by his nylon guitar melodies and some lovely organ and wordless vocal drones. From the Czech Republic’s Tomáš Šenkyřík comes Fond, even harder to describe than the other two with its gently surreal tapestry of classical instrumentation with electronics and field recordings.
What binds all three albums together is tonality, proving once again that musicians can probe and explore and experiment without cold dissonance or angry noise, two things I’ve had quite enough of already in 2020 thanks very much. Warmly recommended.