This is the first full-length CD of Ryan Teague, a young composer based in Cambridge, England and it is an epic piece of work that fuses full orchestral arrangements with electronics.
The results can be either grandiose or ambient-sounding (?Nephesch? with its backward sampled effects a la Irresistible Force) ? like a more symphonic take on the music of Steve Reich (?Coins and Crosses? which features the luminous presence of harpist Rhodri Davies) or a more minimalist version of Craig Armstrong?s works (?Fantasia For String Orchestra?).
In fact, I can?t help thinking about how Henryk G?recki?s ?Symphony No. 3? and Arvo P?rt?s music in general have had such an impact on many new aspiring composers beyond the field of classical music (Bj?rk and the likes).
Although the press kit mentions the cinematic imagery of Kieslowski or Bergman as a possible reference, there are moments where I think the music would not have sounded out of place in the ?Lords of the Rings? trilogy (?Tableau I? with its whole choir)!
Whether you see this as a good or a bad thing, the music featured on this CD has one common thread though: the presence of slightly dark melodies and overtones (what one could call the more ambient drift). Whatever the mood variations, it remains highly dramatic throughout. The central piece ?Fantasia For String Orchestra? is truly the most impressive track here. It is an epic, purely orchestral work that is highly cinematic/ melancholic and goes through many different ways before revealing its secret cohesiveness to the listener.
As far as keyboards and electronics go, they are not part of the textural/ melodic fabric. And although they do add a slightly odd touch here and there (?Seven Keys?, ?Tableau II?), they are mainly used to sustain the written compositions per se, which is far from being uncommon nowadays. However, this doesn?t mean that this has not been done with the utmost care and delicacy.
For instance, the final track ?Rounds? deserves a special mention as it gracefully blends more organic sound sources, such as the entire orchestra (with choir) and Rhodri Davies?s very inspired harp-playing, with some chopped-up, muffled beats to create an impressive Reich-like ambient piece of work. This is my favourite track on the album and it is not as pompous as it may sound!
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable CD, although it is not as original and ground-breaking as it appears to be. 7/10 -- Francois Hubert (25 September, 2006)