`Kites' is the third part of the legendary Jade Warrior Island records catalogue of four related and essential albums. The duo of Jon Field and Tony Duhig made it their mission to create a body of work which exists as a conceptual whole thanks to the stunning Japanese influenced artwork of Eckford/Stimpson, and the endless flow of their artistic vision . This project remains uncategorisable despite attempts to pigeonhole them as proto-ambient, world music, and even easy listening. There is an integrity in every nuance of this music which makes one marvel at how music could flow so magically from one soundworld to the next.In all honesty the individual track titles are a diversion from the need to surrender to the magical transitions which happen before one's ears as elements of an album whose only restraint was the 20 minute limit of an LP to interrupt a blissful listening experience.
Working on the same recording principles as Mike Oldfield (Jon Field dropped in to play on Tubular Bells) except as a duo, and the pair felt free to overdub any instrument they could get through the studio doors in pursuit of a unique sound which remains readily identifiable and pure to this day. They did not use synthesisers, and other accepted shortcuts, they laboured over sound textures created by `real' instruments to create textural juxtapositions which were uniquely their own.
One thing which leaps out of this newly remastered disc is the absurdity of the `ambient' label. This is not background music. There are dynamics here which reflect the quietest stream to the loudest thunder, and it is this which makes for a unique listening experience. It is perhaps futile to differentiate too much between the four albums, because they really do belong together as a whole body of work, buy one album and you really need them all. There is a continuity of sound which is quite unprecedented.
`Kites' is in effect two suites of music lasting a very dense 36 minutes, it is an intense listening experience in which you will hear music which reflects the very essence and dynamics of every real instrument which could be hit, blown or plucked, creating a beauty will never be captured in quite the same way ever again.
I have all 4 of the Island cds from Jade Warrior and the first and 3rd albums. All are good, the first 3 sounding like King Crimson Islands period and the later ones more obviously Japanese and experimental. This cd is the weakest of the island foursome, sounding thin on ideas and heavy on sudden bangs and crashes. Not essential.