The Sly and Unseen

All Similarities
and Technical Difficulties
End Here

All Similarities and Technical Difficulties End Here is a lovely, lullaby-driven descent into acoustic ambient music. Its soothing atmosphere works on many levels. It’s spacious and yet active music that’s always given the room it needs in order to breathe. The music skirts through a shackled ambient village, where country lanes and moss-coated cemeteries give way to resplendent fields robed with emerald-green forests and golden, sun-ripened crops. The Sly and Unseen (Katie English & Jonathan Lees) have released two EPs before, but this is their first full-length album. The ‘back to basics’ approach lets the warmth shine through, and you’ll only find a little electronic use. Only occasionally will you find an electronic beat, and even then it’ll slowly vanish right in front of your eyes.

A piano treads carefully over the dusty dirt road. Dogs bark and drones flicker, vibrating unsteadily in the wind. And out here in the country, the wind can really pick up some speed. The meandering melody of a flute leaks into the pastoral terrain, running like a stream through the music. It calms, it irons the way and it gives the music a smooth, serene texture. Elsewhere, a lullaby is interrupted by the harsh, dissonant yelp of a fox, but it’s evocative of its place and it just shows how far out in the country we really are. Bells tinkle lightly in the distance, and carts are pulled by horses as they make their way to the next township. Sounds clang lightly; a dropped trinket clatters against the soil, and some bronze coins fall into the grass.

They are a sign of the old age; their tender isn’t worth much anymore. The Balinese gamelan and the harmonium drones both give off a rich, almost regal atmosphere. Reverberating voices are, perhaps, the ruined ghosts of a war once fought. And one in which the villagers claimed victory. The music’s always confined to a straw-roofed house or a beaten road. As sunset creeps into the day, the reeds sleepily waver and the wind dies down. The record ends with a deep, calm drone. The land is healthy; we are leaving the kingdom behind.

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