Review – “Centres” – Ian William Craig

reviewed by Jack Derricourt


I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. I will admit that, when I reviewed Ian William Craig a couple of years ago, I didn’t quite get what his approach to music entailed. The spaces made up by his collection of tape loops, cassette choirs, and delayed machinations left me feeling a little lost. But, with this newest batch of material, I can say I’ve definitely meshed in with his particular story from the mountain. Now, pardon me while I wax poetic about this wonderful album.

Centres opens with a gorgeous vista of a track; “Contain” fails to do that which it commands, sending voices out in stretching directions away from its point of essential beginning. But the opening piece does a wonderful job of introducing the themes and content of the record: the voice is present, but not dominant; the looping sounds of otherworldly melody; the swelling and receding of grey noise to coat the background of the track; the final delivery of a psalm-like organ; and of course, the prolonged process of the track working itself out, as so much of the album proceeds with wilful self-discovery, rather than any tired, plotted structure you might have heard before.

There are musical bloomings all over the album. “Power Colours Spirit Animal” is the kind of graceful synthesis of artificial noises that progresses a secret or an escape; you never see where the music is leading, but you feel the weight of the movement in its sound; the fluctuating synth lines and the looping choir of voices proclaim a propagation of worlds alive in Centres. The electric merry-go-round that is “A Circle Without Having to Curve” seems alight with life, the most complete landscape of all the tracks on Centres, that grows to become such within the first third of the track.

Smooth sloping songs appear nestled between the larger pieces.: “A Single Hope” and its optimism waltz; “The Nearness” and its falsetto squeezebox closeness; the group of promising voices in “Arrive, Arrive;” and “Purpose (Is No Country)” is too simply beautiful for me to toy with between words. These never make the album seem anything but diverse and intriguing, but they are juicy little condensed pockets of song in amongst the longer recordings.

And then it’s over, beginning as it ended — sort of — with another version of opener “Contain.” The temptation is to interrogate the two versions of the track, to question whether Centres ‘contains’ — as in ‘restricts’ — anything in particular. I don’t think so. There’s too much openness and potential for sonic inspiration here, too much glorious vibration.

This is a well-worked piece of music, this IWC creation. It moves with a jostling, glacial resonance, and keeps some secrets hidden away within its sound. It takes time, to hear its song. But over multiple listens, Centres shows itself to be a very simple thing, played as deeply as possible.

Top Tracks: “A Single Hope” ; “Power Colour Spirit Animal” ; “Purpose (Is No Country)”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*

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