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Nick Webb's first solo release since 2001's 'Dust and Glass'. Featuring 8 tracks, plus on the initial limited edition copies, an electronica remix of 'Spinning Away' by Dan McRae of 'Thin Films'. Features striking artwork by LabelSound graphic artist Stuart Tolley.
A slight departure
from previous FARFIELD albums. 'Sonic Entities' packs in the same textures
and atmospheres but with subtle layered beats, female vocal harmonies
from singers Anna-Jane Vine and Tamsin Vine plus treated soundscapes sounds
and echoed radio voices.
Track 1 'Spinning Away'
Track 2 'Non-Linear
Track 3 'Sonic
Track 6 'Space
Track 8 'Sliding'
Track 9. Bonus
track by Dan McRae
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The first thing that struck me about Sonic Entities is how it's got plenty going on to keep one's attention but is also restful - a balance I found particularly satisfying. Nick has woven together a coherent listening experience across eight discrete tracks that make use of synths, piano, drum beats, percussion, female vocal harmonies, and treated sound samples. Atmospheric is an overused word, yet I can think of none better to describe this work which often engendered a curious sense of expectation without really knowing what the expectation was.
Getting the album underway is "Spinning Away" which gives a good introduction to the musical territory being explored. Sound samples taken at a railway station comprise the first minute or so before slowly giving way to hi-hat percussion, easygoing drum beats, and layers of synth washes. Some of the synth tones reminded me a little of some elements on Gary Numan's The Pleasure Principle, though I'm not sure if that's coincidence or if Numan was a musical influence on Nick. It's on this track that we first hear the gorgeous and wordless female harmony vocals by Anna-Jane Vine and Tamsin Vine; these vocals have been expertly used to be an integral part of the music rather than as just another texture.
Railway station sound samples crop up in few of the tracks, I think they made listening to the album feel like being on a train journey where one's mind sinks into a comfortable reverie as the scenery changes. So the atmosphere is very much down to earth, apart from "Space Opens Up" where expansive synth washes brush across the soundscape in a cosmic spacemusic manner.
Sonic Entities is a great all rounder of an album, it works well as pleasing background when doing other things or better still as music to chillout with or listen to carefully - it's not demanding without being boring. Definitely one for any ambient/EM fan's collection.
By Dene Debbington,
Wind and Wire.
Records, 40 Harrison Road, Southampton, SO17 3TJ, Great Britain