Monday, 11th December 2017. 11:20:54pm ET
Reviews CD Reviews Ethereal Marvin Ayres- Neptune


Artist: Marvin Ayres
CD Title: Neptune
Label: Burning Shed
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 4/8/05

Neptune is a reissue of Marvin Ayres' second classical/ambient solo album, originally released on Mille Plateaux. More accessible and melodic than Ayers' previous ambient/experimental outing, Cellosphere, Neptune showcases 12 tracks created almost entirely from electric string instruments (violin, cello, and viola), the obvious exception being the appearance of an organ on "Breath". The resulting compositions, combined with electronic manipulation and production that ranges from subtle to integral, create a spectacular tapestry that is both sonically interesting and emotionally moving.

While certain tracks, particularly the airy (pardon the pun) ambience of "Breath", are somewhat more upbeat and dreamy, the majority of the material here delves deep into melancholia. Some pieces are more organic and fairly straightforward, for instance the lone cello melody of the moody standout "Under Blue". Others involve more processing and production, particularly the album's last two pieces, "Swell" and "Sea Minor". The former appears to be made up of highly processed melodic phrases, chopped up, in some cases seemingly reversed, and then sequenced. The latter, on the other hand, is a more straightforward performance, albeit one where the strings are processed to the point of sounding almost synthesized.

The album has a few other standouts in addition to those already mentioned. Despite the organic source material and absence of synthesizers, the excellent 17+ minute "Drift" is rather akin to the instrumental work of Black Tape for a Blue Girl circa A Chaos of Desire or Remnants of a Deeper Purity. The heavily processed violas of "Chanty", drenched in reverb/delay, create a chorus of seagulls, providing the backdrop for a sole melodic line with haunting results.

An enhanced portion containing two short films by Pete Gomes rounds out the disc. These include a promotional video for "Under Blue" and performance footage from the 2001 Camden Remix Festival. The former takes the song's title literally, made up of shots of Ayers playing, taken at different angles and layered beneath blue watery images. The latter is a simple performance piece with a small television screen showing colored ambient noise patterns as a backdrop. While the musical content is the main attraction, both are nice additions to the disc.

As a whole, Neptune is at once lush, beautiful, sad, and captivating; rich and textured yet lonely and stark. Anyone with an affinity for moody ethereal strings, from those with a more experimental/electronic music background to classical listeners to low-key ethereal darkwave fans, will almost certainly find Neptune quite remarkable.

 

Marvin Ayres website: www.marvinayres.com

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