Albums of 2016: Ian William Craig- Centres

When you set an FM radio far enough between stations you will hear “radio static” otherwise known as white noise. It’s a sound that can be harsh at loud volumes and has been used in torture and yet at low volumes is used to help people sleep and heal tinnitus.

Radio static is also the audio replication of the radiation left over from the Big Bang. A moment in time that shifted simplicity to complexity, bonded chemical structures of uncompromising beauty and jump started the messiness and wonder of creation. It’s all there in the speaker, sounds that have great force of complexity or simplicity, It’s just a matter of perception.

It’s in this vast wash of sound that you’ll find Ian William Craigs Centres. An album that covers vast spectrum of audio styles in both genre and expertise to create something that features both the wonder of creation and its destruction.

The album starts with the track Contain-Astoria Version, heavy synth pads underpin a distorted and pitch shifting vocal that blends the organic with the mechanistic. Halfway through the backing vocal loops drift away to leave room for a synth wall of sound that is distorting and falling apart as fast as it is coming together.

This engulfing power of electric instrumentation is in the epic scale of the cosmic. It’s unexpected but works brilliantly and this could summarise the whole album. Constantly going in directions that surpass your expectations. Places that have been there in other music but done in a way that is refreshing. More musical than the experimental noise sounds of artists like Belong, William Basinski and Tim Hecker yet with all there edge and power.

It then uses these soundscapes to squeeze in genre not usually associated with them. Stripped down Ballads and Choral music interweave the tape loops, field recordings and distorted synth lines to create rest bite from their intensity and also demonstrate the skilled classically trained singing of Ian William Craig. Something rare in more experimental music which is usually created by vocalists rather than singers.

I have often commented on my love for the bitter sweetness of in-tune electronics with slightly drifting vocals. but Ian William Craig proves that pitch perfect delivery also works incredibly well, especially when he pulls the vocals apart with tape degradation and distortion until they become the background ambiences they originally opposed.

Its this constant flow of build and destruction that makes the album so impressive. An album that surprises and excites me and continues to grow and develop on repeat listens. It manages to encompass a vast swathe of genre, music and production techniques over its long play time without loosing its style or vision.


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