Sunday, December 9, 2007

DAVID NEWLYN "A Nervous State of Mind" (Abandon Ship Records)

Not knowing much about the relatively new Abandon Ship label, I was thrown off guard by this one by David Newlyn, an artist from Durham, England. "A Nervous State of Mind" is a somewhat misleading title for this collection of decidedly easygoing ambient compositions. Ambient, as in the tradition of Brian Eno's multilayered soundscapes, rather than today's effects laden drones, although the glitches and pops of 1990s-era IDM are present as well. Of the variety of instruments employed throughout the album's nine tracks, guitar, synthesizers and miscellaneous software provide the main structure. However, the compositions flow so seamlessly and share so many similarities that it's difficult to distinguish where one ends and the next begins. Occasionally there are sharper high-pitched tones which cut briefly into the lulling keyboard patterns, less commonly an atonal guitar chord, but this material is focused on traditional harmony and seldom leaves that path. Fans of darker territories might overdose on Newlyn's blatantly optimistic sound, but amateurism isn't one of his faults, as the intricate constructions and flow of every track easily prove. Altogether an interesting release from a promising young label, this c32 comes with a full-color insert. Numbered edition of 100.