The Silent Committee – Staring at the Sea

The Silent Committee (Chris Fordham) has given this album the tag of ambient, so when I dove into listening to this record I payed little attention to it, merely letting it drift by. Upon second listen I find that the ambient tag is probably thrown around a little too loosely here as there is a number of instruments being combined to create the sound emitted from my speakers. Percussion, acoustic guitars, drums, electric guitar, synths, xylophones (?) and bells are a number of sounds I hear. Whether or not there is a definitive genre being espoused it is indeed an enjoyable listen.

A good portion of the album stradles the line between electric and acoustic and personally I love the dynamic between the two forms. Much like the accompanying paintings there is usually an audible wash of sound, a background that gives way to a solid figure being shifted into attention, it is almost as if the swirls beneath the piano’s and percussion serve as a vessel of transporting and placing sounds and textures.

The most traditionally ambient track on the record, it’s second cut Descent is a pulsating sub-aqueous adventure stretched over seven minutes. Following closely is the breakbeat dark ambience of Regime that runs quickly over a minute and a half. It;s from this point that I begin to really enjoy this record. Lullabye is true to it’s name with a lovely bell sequence accompanied by acoustic guitar and a steady, rhytmic wood block backing shadowed by a quiet hiss and eventual warm, enveloping guitar.

Fordham could be criticized for the lack of focus swithcing between slow burning ambient and more experimental instrumental soundscapes but  it works to advantage. The staggered appraoch allows the listener to continually shift focus by being lulled into swaying ambience to being charmed by simple elegance. The true stand out tracks show themselves at the end in Colours and Rose, the former offering a steady beat and timely electronics while the latter provides for another one of those ‘charming’ moments I spoke of earlier. Good stuff.

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