03 September 2010

Clem Leek – holly lane (2010, Hibernate)

Clem Leek is a young musician & composer from the South East of UK who completed his MA in Music Composition. So it's not surprising to find an academic or a least a classical grandeur (I mean strong emotions) to his ambient works and obvious references or influences from major vintage artists of the genre (I almost can feel relation with the works of artist like Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Michael Brook & Pieter Nooten, Philip Glass or Peter Gabriel).

He started by the release of an ep on his own label, Schedios records, then a digital ep on Experimedia, before moving to Hibernate for his first album. If his first works were built around piano, here he developed a broader palette with drones, strings and field recordings. Like with Keith Kennif or Kyle Bobby Dunn, the ambition is visible and percolates every aspect of his music with the goal of developing an impressive style. But along the way, the stylistic perspective is partially lost, and a strong personal point of view or direction is also diluted.

If the artwork paint a young boy as a musician on the first steps of his career with a grievous perspective (this sketched cross), the contents are somewhat closer to "the frog and the bull" fable, not that Clem Leek doesn't have all the technical education but translating GYBE climates to the ambient world can spark off questions of real pertinence. If we except the intention to impress, it's really difficult to decode something unique or a particular intensity on certain directions. It's easy to let the atmospheres of this album invade you but except the stylistic depth there isn't much tension or deep melancholy inside this record. 

"Holly Lane" is a majestic empty shell, not devoid of qualities, but lacking the strength to make a lasting impression. As soon as I'll have finished the review of this album I'll forget it completely. There are standing moments but never ones you already experienced several times. "Holly Lanes" offers memories of memories, when I expect a tangible ground.

Once that said, it is a first album and Clem Leek still have room for evolution and progress and a track like "The Burnt Home" let us catch a glimpse of beautiful things to come when the obviousness will be altered for more subtle meanings and nuances.

Clem leek: Holly Lane sampler by hibernate

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