Release date: 09 March 2009
Format: Printed CDR in a Super Jewel Case. Cover, disc artwork and typography by Landschaft.
This is a single piece of music, in the Concerto form; that is a three-part musical work in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. I have left the listener to decide where one part ends and the other begins.
Inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe short story, "Landsor's Cottage", this is a piece in the signature dark-pastoral Landschaft compositional style. If anyone is looking for a visual reference, try looking at this work of art by Samual Palmer, Early Morning (1825), a work contemporaneous with Poe's, and entirely in synchrony with the mood Poe evokes in "Landsor".
This is a work that evolved quickly and to a great extent under it's own momentum. A late night session of ideas-sketching produced a remarkable layered orchestral cycle. This turned into quite an upbeat Stravinski-like gallop with pizzicato strings driving the piece along to a big mellow horn section crescendo. There followed a chamber music version - a perky stripped down skeleton of light instrumentation. Both of the upbeat versions remain in the Landschaft vaults. I then headed it off into darker water - the whole piece was time stretched by a 5 times multiple and a violin solo was laid over the top that turned it into a haunting pastoral epic more in the Vaughan Williams vein; this the completed work is available for public consumption.
I have had the pleasurable luxury of living for several months with these two recent releases from Landschaft before embarking upon this review. Two shorter format albums, both spanning around thirty perfect minutes in duration, which together I consider an indefectible musical diptych - even though one of them is also a triptych, but let's not let numbers get in the way here.
If you have been following Landschafts output over the last two years or so, you may also feel upon listening to this work, that it has all been leading up to this. In many ways almost an expected pleasure to engage with this subtle level of refinement. I say an expected pleasure, because there are no hidden suprises here, rather an acute sense of vision coming into focus, building upon the achievements of Walpurgisnacht by stepping back from it and becoming subtly introvert and tenuously focussed. Again, these albums define spaces outside of our normal experiences, but by almost paradoxical means, Landschaft has formed connections to what I can only describe as the poignant edge of the soul. So, instead of space music, here we have soul music - but perhaps that is indeed two sides of the same coin.
The sounds we have here, softly woven orchestral ambience, counterpoints between melodic harmonies and strangely floating, supporting yet discordiant streams, sometimes conjures thoughts of Benjamin Britten in suspended animation. While there is a pronounced similarity between the two works Landsor is the more anxious of the them, as diamond sharp edges sweep along the polished curves. These works may be of short duration, but over and over again I refused to believe the display on my CD player as it halted around the 28:00 mark, and I even examined the discs for hidden tracks. The point here being, that this suspension effect is in full effect, an almost magical warping of time, a distillation of essence so softly executed that it still confounds me.
If it provides any further insight into the grace of this music, I listened to Dark Seasons every night for at least a month as a precursor to sleeping as I begun a course of dreamwork and was always launched into the night through deeply fascinating hypnagogic states - surround sound vision! I can highly recommend this music for meditative purposes.
I hear rumours from the Landschaft camp that he is planning new recordings in this vein using live instrumentation to enhance these technologically based recordings. Give the man an orchestra now!