Craig Armstrong, known to many perhaps mainly as a film composer, here delivers his second solo album of original material. Musically this is a real advance on his previous Melankolic offering "The space between us", which suffered from being too closely tied to his work with Massive Attack, and featured among some admittedly brilliant individual pieces, a fair amount of stuff he probably put together in rather a hurry.
So, what is it like? Well, there are the trademark big, lush, sombre strings, some fairly cool bleeps courtesy of Rupert Parkes (Photek) and some quite nice crooning from a number of mega rock stars (eg Bono). Standout track is the fabulous "Wake up in New York", which also has a truly phenomenal acoustic guitar sound on it, complete with creaks. The vocal isn't bad either (!) Other things that stick in the mind include a truly bizarre German expressionist piece he is probably wishing didn't make the cut. Anyone who was at The Barbican show earlier this year will know what I'm talking about.
Overall the album has the gorgeous quality we have come to expect from Armstrong in recent years, having been recorded and mixed as usual by the best team on the planet (Geoff Foster at AIR studios), and will not dissapoint film music heads on that score.
It is good to see Armstrong continuing to make his own music while managing to maintain a presence in the vipers nest that is the Hollywood film music business. He is obviously onto something here: there is a real interest in this kind of intelligent music that bridges the Classical and dance music worlds, but apart from Armstrong and in a slightly darker way Max Richter, there are very few thoughtful composers working that seam.