Simon Scott: Silenne
Now here's a lovely surprise: Sonic Pieces has initiated a seven-inch series called Sonic Pieces that'll consist of seven records (the reason why, therefore, the first installment is catalogued as Seven Pieces - Piece One) set for release over the next few years. But even more surprising is the material presented on the inaugural release: two vocal-based songs by Simon Scott, who recently received much deserved acclaim for the Miasmah release Navigare. Though sonic details such as ambient guitar textures and electronic treatments on the songs reveal ties to that debut album, Depart, Repeat presents a very different side of Scott's musical persona. Apparently some serious health-related scares inspired him to write the songs, both of which deal with issues of hope and loss. He recorded the material at Durton Studio in Berlin, where his acoustic guitar, xylophone, and vocals were complemented by Nils Frahm's piano, synthesizer, and engineering expertise.
The best surprise of all is how lovely the two songs are. “Never Alone” establishes its sombre tone immediately when a plodding acoustic guitar pattern appears alongside ambient guitar washes hovering in the background. The music grows ever more arresting when Scott's tremulous voice joins in, its natural appeal enhanced by a noticeable ache as he sings of precious experiences shared with a lover at midnight under the stars, and when the coda finds the music suddenly taking flight in a flurry of pianos, guitars, and wordless vocals. On strictly musical terms, “Left Behind the World” is the sunnier of the two songs, with Scott's vocal and acoustic strums supported by the bright tinkle of a glockenspiel and Frahm's elegant piano accompaniment. But lyrically the song's darker than “Never Alone” as its lyrics actually center on the sense of liberation and release that death brings about. The songs are nevertheless beautiful, even with their gloomy thematic content, and one also is struck by how effective Scott is as a singer.
Scott also has another new release available, this one a thirty-three-minute instrumental setting titled Silenne and issued in digital download and limited-edition CD (500 copies available) formats by Slaapwel. Created in Cambridge during 2010, the piece is purposefully designed to explore the more narcoleptic side of Scott's music-making (the inspiration for the piece came from his habit of drifting off to sleep in the sunshine while listening to music). To achieve the desired effect, Scott looped guitar motifs and ambient crackle, hiss, and static into a hazy swirl and then expanded on the swelling mass by adding SuperCollider-generated sine waves and MaxMSP-processed vocals. One-third of the way along, the guitars almost disappear, buried as they are by an ethereal blur that grows ever denser as each moment passes. Despite the heaviness of the resultant mass, the music drifts placidly and its lulling character, reinforced by a calming bass motif, induces a not unwelcome restfulness in the listener. Why thirty-three minutes? Scott settled on the duration because it generally takes him that amount of time to drop off. Nice to see a little humour work its way into a genre not known for light-heartedness.