“Tonal Glints” in Chain D.L.K

The second heart moving chapter of the trilogy – being the first one “Ghost Folk” released by polar Seas Recordings last year – that Bristol-based sound artist James Alexander McDermid dedicated to her sister Harriet, who died in August 2016 after two years of illness, comes out on KrysaliSound. The emotional framework of the plenty of tracks that this producer poured out during this painful experience before and after Harriett’s death was exhaustively explained by the author’s own words: “once the original shock dissipated, a wall of grief fell on me and, as a result, I found it an almost impossible task seeing my world in quite the same way as I once had. The wear and tear of life became suffocating, so I continued with the idea of channeling what I was feeling, into music; however, coming to terms with Harriett’s death, rather than her illness, started to cloud and confuse what I was doing. In the end, it was Sophie Calle’s book Exquisite Pain – a book arguably about grief in its various forms – that provided me with the clarity I needed. Calle’s writing – in particular, the people in it trying to come to terms with their own similar tragedies – helped shape and direct my own thoughts; Exquisite Pain acted as a conduit for what I was both feeling and trying to convey. Tonal Glints is the end result”. The stream of sound that James forged for this stage of enlightenment is riddled with many pearls. The main resounding element on the opening “The Vagabond”, – a sort of squeaking music box – seems to open the gate of the memories, which get unrolled on the almost scenic elements filling the crescendo of the following “All the shutters are closed”, whose waves crash against a wall of a distant choir of female voices. The thin overlapping of amplified tones of “I put the letter in my pocket” sound like the ruffled surface of a pond where some sweet images of the past could get vivid and precedes one of the best moment of the whole album “I’ll take one who loves me”, when James picks his acoustic guitar up to weave a delicately intimate folk. Other fragments of memories (or maybe ghost sighting) could have inspired the weird cameo of “Bunny” and the ambient expansions of the following “Within reach”, where a sort of regular breath, that becomes more and more audible, makes me argue that this track is somehow related to some dreams or nightmares (rendered by the dark tones of “Worse than the last look”) experienced during the sleep. The whispered litany of “If you concede” (another peak of this album), the tinkling standstill of “Eastern Bloc” and the gloomy minute of “Last Year” prepare the ground for the triggering aphony of “I saw red, and through the red, nothing” and the cathartic release in the incomprehensible murmur, the evanescent sonic cloak and the rift in the darkness opened by a thin piano-driven melody in the tail of the final track “Faraway too close”.

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