This is the second Centaur release from UK-based electronics
composer and drummer, Joseph Livingstone. The opening track
is a collaboration with violinist Jo Quigley, and the influence
of an Irish classical sound is clearly in evidence. This is
a slow-paced and expansive piece, which is tinged with nostalgia.
The electronics track for the most part recreates instrumental
sounds, through the use of samples. This is reasonably effective,
but it doesn’t have the same sense of life in the sound as it
would with live musicians. I’d love to hear an orchestra with
Hieronymus has a filmic feel, and a richly imaginative
tapestry of sounds comes together in a quirky combination of
rhythm and melody. Poet’s Corner has a jazz feel, and
Livingstone’s drum-playing is an enjoyable feature. Group
thought is a philosophical work, which deals with the topic
of group affinities in humans. This is the most purely electronic
work on the disc so far, with some interesting treatments of
a recorded piano sound. There’s also a sense of disturbance,
before the music calms to a series of repeated patterns and
warm sounds. This reminded me a little of the sound-world of
Gavin Bryars’ work, The Sinking of the Titanic.
Track 5, Keep the Florists Busy returns to a lively jazz
feel, with the drums once again making a significant appearance.
Livingstone clearly has impressive skills as a drummer. I feel
this is one of the strongest tracks on the disc so far. The
Hallelujah Door makes reference to the 9/11 attacks and
considers the potential of a door ‘acting as a separator between
life and death’. The subject-matter is dealt with well, and
there is a sense of despair combined with a feeling of timelessness.
He Liked this place is a reflective description of a
churchyard, which has a poignant feel. It is well considered
in terms of its musical material. I particularly enjoyed the
distorted organ sounds at the end. Physical Overtures,
the title track of the disc, returns to a jazz feel. Karl
has an oriental feel, with Eastern percussion instruments creating
an exotic atmosphere. The wah-wah pipe organ is enjoyable, but
I found little connection between that and the oriental percussion.
The many moods of this piece felt like a montage rather than
a unified piece. The final track of the disc is New York
is Rome, taking its title from a quote by John Lennon. Using
repeated patterns, this electronic piece has a dream-like quality
which draws the disc to a gentle close.
The constant change between styles on this disc is in some ways
refreshing in that the variety prevents the tracks feeling too
similar. That said, it’s also a little disconcerting, as the
sense of seriousness created through the style of He Liked
this Place and the Hallelujah Door seems trivialized
by the jazz interludes. I don’t get a clearly consistent sense
of Livingstone’s style as a composer. I’d be interested to hear
a disc of Livingstone’s drumming pieces, separately from a disc
of his electronic compositions. This should open the door to
achieving a greater consistency. Nevertheless, this is a composer
with an interesting voice, and the tracks are constructed with
a sense of imagination.