The Wire

This is a lovely record. Intimate and unassuming, it sounds like nothing else and imparts a warmth that deepens with each listen. It’s music to furnish the secluded corners and secret recesses of the mind, catering from quiet times. Bell, an accomplished player of Japanese shakuhachi flute, uses a range of other wind instruments too, including a khene (mouth organ) and a Norwegian flute to make sounds that are colourful, attractive and often striking, without being at all self consciously outlandish. Multi-instrumentalist David Ross, who played drums with Kenny Process Team, shares Bell’s capacity to imagine associations between tones and shadings not heard together elsewhere and to bring them into being. Through subtle coloration and shifting alignments, they make melodies that project like vivid mosaics.

“Mystery Lights” has been edited by Ross from a number of live performances, some formal, some more casual. The edits become part of the music’s magic lantern character, a series of auditory glimpses, fades, returns, fresh shapes, fragments of a rotating pattern. Some of those fragments have guest appearances by budgerigars Walter and Donald, whose chirps and squawks sound uncannily perfect in their place. After the crafty montage comes the long slow panning shot. “Nightflower”, recorded in a single 32 minute studio take last November, is built around the alternation of two minor chords, with Ross’s instrumentation including organ and autoharp and Bell blowing tenderly in pensive mood. Gradual music like scented air. Delicate without fastidiousness; soothing and sensuous. A lovely record.

—Julian Cowley