Robert Haigh – Creatures of the Deep

Creatures of the Deep reaches up like a thick tentacle. Its melodies prod around lightly, as if searching for something within its piano-lit territory. The music roils out of her depths, swimming upwards and into the splayed, echoing light of the surface. Down below, things aren’t so discernible, and the murky piano reinforces the fog-under-water vibe, but once the piano breaks water (with the help of a lighter ambient texture, which pulls the piano up so she can take in a lungful of air), the music becomes open, understandable and relatable: her newfound visibility helps the listener to see her well-toned definitions in a true light, as well as the real, naked soul, with its mask stripped away.

The ambient piano calls to you from across the grey sea, beckoning you to swim into its eternal waters, transfixing you with a pretty gaze, and before you know it, your feet are already wet and the cold tide is rolling around your ankles. Skin-deep beauty is artificial: like true beauty, there is a sizeable depth within and on the inside, and the thoughtful compositions reflect a beautiful heart. The ice-encrusted music sinks into the bones, but it awakens rather than numbs. Notes hang in the air, suspended from the music’s structure like broken skeletons in a shipwreck of long ago.

British composer Robert Haigh has brought another style to the fore in what’s already a gloriously varied musical career: he’s previously worked within industrial avant-garde as well as ambient drum n’ bass as Omni Trio. With Creatures of the Deep, mysteries are allowed to shine weakly, emerging through the speakers at a slow rate, the airy ambient textures and the ghostly passages of the fathoms offering glints of something much bigger…monolithic, even, exploring a world in tones that pacify instead of terrify.

Unearthed jewels are dimly lit as the passing sunlight traps them. Sometimes the piano walks alone, and that slackens its body temperature; it can’t pull a heat source from anything. It’s at this point that the music starts to slide into isolation as it endures the utter hopelessness that comes when ploughing through the barren wastelands of life. At other times, a gentle reworking and rewinding rocks the ice, hinting at a more contemporary element while finding someone or something to love. Electronics are subtle, and because of that, the music retains its purity. Slow-shifting harmonies melt away the frosty barricades, while the piano’s single notes are as clear as shards of sharp ice. The longer the music plays, the more the listener finds a treasure more precious than anything else – the coldest of seas can’t drag a glowing, golden heart under.

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