Danny Clay

Danny Clay - Ganymede, old photo of a garden in spring or summer


In February, romance is in the air, and “Ganymede” is dappled with its own sweet scent of perfume. Like a red rose, the music of “Ganymede” slowly unfurls. The music is full of colour and it has plenty of warmth; it can be your Valentine. The notes are dull in their tone — they must wait for the spring before they can turn a shade crisper and brighter. At the same time, the body of the music is bright, optimistic and chirpy, bursting with love and adoration. This open land holds soft, grassy tones:

“And your blossoms, your grass
press upon my heart”.

The reeds tickle as you walk past, and they move to their own subtle rhythm. This is natural ambient music. A cool sheet of water ripples, and wind chimes gently rock against each other. Golden harmonies glisten and gleam in the cool, dry air, and the sustained notes reflect against the pale sun, leaving behind a special, subtle halo; a three-sixty lens flare, dappled in the colours of the rainbow. The music is melatonin, relaxing your very being. It’s almost like a seduction; the notes drape themselves over you. The music’s enchanting. Like creaking ice, the music sometimes crackles underfoot, but there’s never any danger here. Ganymede is a record dedicated to the kind season of spring — although, in the snow-white silence of February, it still seems a fair way off. But the ice is slowly melting, and the dawn is slowly lifting. The birds come out earlier as it gets lighter for longer.

Ohio-based composer Danny Clay washes away the pain and the cold with a lovely dose of ambient music. Clocks tick with metronomic accuracy, soothing you. The sound of the steady, unceasing tick can sometimes conjure up the pressure of a tight deadline, but as Global Communication proved, the ever-advancing hands of a clock can also send you away, into another world. It’s presented in an interesting way: combs, baby monitors and found objects are all utilised, but a piano sits beside the turntable and provides some instrumental stabilisation. Slow moving drones swoosh around — there’s no tension here. “Ganymede” is formed out of the opening bars of the Schubert song, which was based on a poem by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In the poem, the protagonist becomes profoundly seduced by the beauty of God — has fallen into a deep, all-consuming love for God and His creation — seen through the beauty of the emerging spring. And spring is truly a beautiful season.

“Springtime, Beloved!
With thousandfold love-bliss
The holy feeling
Of your eternal warmth
Presses itself upon my heart,
Unending beauty!”

While spring is a celebration of new life, Clay’s music has a darker undercurrent, like a pure river stained and tainted by a sliver of rose-red blood. There are brambles in the brook. The tones glow; an intermittent light surrounds the music, waxing, waning and twinkling in the night sky. Other, later tracks block out the harmonies and focus instead on the rattle and rain of a field recording, itself producing its own, slightly abrasive music. They cycle around like little stones and pebbles, and its lengthy nature almost fogs out the previous, sun-washed harmony. But even this is ambient music. You can hear the swoop of the wind and the introverted rustle of the leaves. Clay fell in love with the piece, and adoration flows out of every sound. A soul-quenching peace descends over the listener. The music is a sunny day in early spring; birds fly and the heavy frost that was once icily entrenched can now at last disappear. The music is something to cherish; spring should be something to cherish.

Embracing, embraced!
Upwards to thy bosom,
All-loving Father!”





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