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Marvin Ayres — The Lowered Veil
(Sing Song Music, 2021, DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-07-24
Ayres has been on the scene for almost two dozen years, a British cellist, violist, violinist, and composer with at least ten albums to his credit during that time. Add to that piano and overtone singing on some of those releases, along with effects and loops, most of which place him in the realm of modern classical and minimalist ambient sounds. He has also produced a number of film and televison soundtracks, as well as collaborations with other artists in interdisciplinary media, like the 2004 collaboration with video artist Pete Gomes titled Sensory, reviewed in these pages on its release. Recently, Ayres has begun working with British label Sing Song Music, who will (in due time) be releasing reissues of many of his earlier albums, and perhaps some that haven’t seen release to date. What better way to introduce his work to a new label than to assemble a representative compilation of his work to date, ten tracks selected from Neptune (2001), Eccentric Deliquescence (2008), Harmogram Suite (2012), Circadian Rhythms (2016) as well as the audio title track from the aforementioned Sensory, something that works well for me as my only familiarity with Ayres to date was his 2005 Heavy Petal collaboration as Mask with Sonja Kristina. The album opens with “Berceuse” from his 2016 release, a slow-evolving minimalist piece of piano and ambient drone loops that sets the stage for most of what follows, not at all unlike something from the Brian Eno catalog, soothing and serene with just enough changes and melodic dreamlift to keep it interesting and engaging over its eight-plus minute duration. Other highlights include “Movement Four,” a modern-classical piece that is part of the Harmogram Suite built completely on loops of strings, and the more directed and ambient “Androgynous Weave” culled from Eccentric Deliquescence, the third of three pieces taken from that album. An earlier piece “Durdy,” barely over two minutes in length, is one of the few pieces here that could be considered abrasive, loops of howling strings that can be fairly disorienting. The closing track, “Sea Minor,” comes from his 2001 album Neptune, another short one filled with strange and curious sounds that closes the compilation nicely. All considered, The Lowered Veil serves as an excellent introduction to Ayres’ earlier work.
Related artist(s): Marvin Ayres
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