05 November 2010

Antonymes - beauty becomes the enemy of the future (2009, Cathedral Transmissions)

Antonymes is the solo project of Ian Hazeldine, a Wales-based UK musician, who is creating instrumental piano & keyboard  ambient pieces, layered with additional electronics and buried  in an ocean of reverb. 

You picture desolate natural landscapes, rainy days under gray skies, low lights and bare trees, decomposing leaves on the ground and a wind carrying away endless masses of clouds.

I grew reticent towards piano based music as it sounds often generic with a tendency of processing the sound giving it grandeur and ceremonial reverence. Indeed, Ian Hazeldine make use of such tricks on his debut album but fortunately never overemphasize it and stay himself along the way.

He has been compared to Harold Budd, Richard Skelton or Max Richterbut a thinner analyze of his style would include influences from various fields, like vintage ambient stuff, post-rock and neo-classical music, with always this same intersection of shivering nostalgia, empty rooms, loneliness and cold landscapes.

When I hear this album, I've got the idea of a growing tree, still under the canopy, displaying its branches and leaves fiercely, hoping to find its way towards brilliant light,  through and opening which may appear or not through time and ascension.

Listening to this album you become quickly optimistic about his capacity to finally reach the sky, because, if certain tracks are losing themselves into shades and darkness, a few ones are receiving precious rays of light, making them glow and swell with an intimate, close to transcendental, pride.

The first track, "My Salvation" follows a very careful piano phrase,  with muted low sounds in the background like vocals or radio speakers heard through a floor. 

"They Have Not Seen The Stars" opens on surface noise while waves of sound are slowly unfolding like aurora borealis lights until a lyrical elegiac apogee and everything fades away on a last magnified close to silence minute.

 Ian Hazeldine keeps the same brio on the graceful "Pour Toujours Sans Espoir" and you've got this images of an early morning walk, the first frozen day of late autumn, under a dark starry sky already turning blue and you lay your eyes on these last summer flowers frosted and kept ephemerally alive which will die and fade away definitely once the temperature will move above zero, dead already but glowing with the first rays of sunlight with their last sparkles of colored life.

"Grotesquely Beautiful" has got an overwhelming dimension, almost overplayed, not enough suggested so I feel almost choking, guessing a more minimal approach would have given better results. Next in line, the organ bases "The Measured Cadence" seems strangely underdeveloped lacking of a strong direction.

You're hold spellbound again as soon as "A Heart Filled With Emptiness" delicately starts and never let you go away, as a necklace of pearly teardrops. 

Sometimes Ian is able to capture such a strong theme that everything else seems to dissolve, it is such capacity which is called talent but which needs to be exercised by work but which let us know that his future works will worth to be explored too.

Even if some tracks, like the last one, "La Fin De Tout" have this generic approach which make so many records belonging to this ambient scene so redundant. 

"Beauty becomes the enemy of the future" deserved to be discovered for these three tracks (n°2, 3 & 6) where Ian Hazeldine finds a language of his own.

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