One of my favourite albums of all time,
This review is from: Grey Mirrors (Audio CD)
As time goes on, I find it harder to really get into ambient music the way I used to, when I first discovered how evocative and visual it could be. On a rare occasion, I do find myself listening to an album these days and immediately sinking into a landscape created entirely by the music. Not only has Andy Condon, on his second album as The Glimmer Room, managed to create such an album, but he has also filled it with some of the most beautiful melodic and harmonic content I have heard on record.
The album opens in a manner which is immediately suited to my tastes: birdsong. A song thrush calls out of an evening (or perhaps a morning), church bells peal and soon the softest of pads fades in as if from the distance. It's evocative of slightly misty walk through the British countryside in a manner which has never failed to make me forget my surroundings. Hesitantly, an intricate synth melody enters, before gaining confidence and driving the piece forward. The mood is not quite melancholic, but certainly nostalgic and wistful, as if exploring a memory of a place forgotten.
This mixture of minor key synth melodies and subdued field recordings sets the stage for the rest of the album, with slightly more uptempo (but certainly not upbeat in mood!) synth sequences and relatively soft percussion joining the mix at various stages of the record. Throughout, the melodies and harmonies are uniformly fantastic, each section bringing new images and feelings to the fore. As the opening section is reprised and let fade away to birdsong once more, I find it impossible not to reflect on the journey I have just been on, and usually find entering the `real world' once more a slightly disheartening experience.
Grey Mirrors is credited as Parts 1-8, but is best listened to as a continuous 42 minute piece, not paying attention to track markings and instead letting the sections blend together to form a singular journey. What is incredible about the album is that at no point does Condon provide a moment of filler. Reading the liner notes (beautifully presented on a wax-sealed textured inlay) reveals that the album was not picked from the best recordings, but in fact extended so it fitted a pleasingly symmetrical 42:24 runtime. Put simply, during the recording sessions for Grey Mirrors, Andy Condon did not come up with a bad second of music.
I could talk more about the harmonic content of Grey Mirrors, or how the structure benefits from Condon's expert use of build ups and climaxes, but the truth is there's one thing that keeps me coming back to this album: when I listen to it, I am transported away to a place so beautiful, I am always sad to leave.