Ambience is always passive listening – it never leaves that zone entirely. The main reason it becomes active is volume, intruding into the story. In Cicely Irvine’s record presented here from the great Eilean Rec, passive listening is pooled with gradient rises from instruments entering the narrative zone.
What separates and makes Irvine’s work successful is it’s plentitude of positive instrumental guises. Early in the album soft tones and chinking machinery caress the listeners ears with a quiet luminosity. The drones stretch, fold together and sway. Mostly, it’s a consonant and makeshift listen. I really love it. But, the thing I really really love is the occasional female mezzo-soprano chorality of voice on some of the opening chapters to the melee marquee.
And when the brief discordant synthetic interlude intrudes, the piano then takes centre stage in the centre of the hall. Then a guitar enters the fray, a heavy-breathing onyx of a sharp tooth in the Lps crown. You’ll notice I’m commenting on a track by track basis instead of using just names. This is because putting titles to music defeats the object of the artist having a considered objective. Also, some are in a different language.
We digress here. But digression is a godsend – too much too soon, it’s never enough, take the long way home; a point gained is a point earned. The dreamy progressive-house tones that seem plucked from melodic births in a general triptych function toward different genres other than electroacoustic… this cognition is decisively typical of many ambient and electroacoustic records. It’s also a concluding way of emphasising the brilliance shown by this long Cicely Irvine album, ended all too soon. Still, it holds together as a beautiful and defining message.