Music for the haunted home. This is music for a home full of secrets...secrets you get peripheral glimpses at...music that make you check under the bed.
I imagine most who would be considering purchasing this album would be fans of Rob Ellis' innovative drumming for PJ Harvey. It's not the side of Ellis you'll find here. The album doesn't contain a single beat.
However, the album reveals another side of Ellis that was untapped (pun intended). This is instrumental mood music. And not always easy-listening as the title may suggest. Ellis makes use of unorthodox approaches and dissonance to create music that will have you looking over your shoulder.
It's a concept album of sorts too. The album involves a few suites, as well as 3 pieces/chapters entitled "Music for the Home".
With 21 tracks in 52 minutes, many of the tracks poke their head in your door briefly before leaving. This heightens the un-nerving penultimate track "Arctic Crossing" all the more, the track lasts over 8 minutes to prolong the un-easiness it gives you. Cleverly made to give you the willys. I first heard the track at 2am, and I wasn't sure I'd get to sleep easily afterwards.
The "Symphonies of Wind Up Instruments" is notably robust. And his Bedtime Story suite is a humorous (though brief at under 2 minutes) reimagining of the Three Pigs as a trio of thugs.
The bustle of "Dreaming" is more suggestive of someone in the throes of a nightmare. The following track "Round" starts to soothe again, but there is still an uneasiness there, a sense that something isn't right. And this is confirmed in "Starry Sky", like the listener is confronted with an army of angry stars.
"Cedez" brings the album to a mournful end, like the venture has had an unexpected and tragic result.
With nothing but the titles and what you hear as the narrative, it's easy to be intrigued by the journey Ellis has in mind, the story he wants the listener to embark on. For me, revealing that may take some more listens on my part.
(Perhaps a clue is in the recurring use of the number 3. 3 Suites. 3 "Music for the Home" pieces. Track 15 is title "Hang-up No.3". The story is the 3 pigs. The second & third suites each have 3 movements. Track 8 is titled "American Dream for Three Pianos".)
I give the album 4.5 stars out of five. I think for what the album is and is intended to be, it is excellently executed. I'm short of giving it five stars only due to the fact that it's not an album I would reach for regularly. But the times I do, I know I will be engrossed, travelling down aural paths with fear & intrigue.