Dickson seems to benefit from keeping one foot in the folk world, and the other in the ambient ether. “Collected Recordings” shows that his equal obsessions with Nick Drake and Brian Eno sound are a natural mix. Dickson draws out the fragile beauty of both, providing emotional cover with some deft and occasionally daring solo guitar.
Drake is in full effect on “As You Lie” and “Two Trains,” which are wistful but with a heartbroken subtext that helps create a beautiful but desolate feel. Dickson’s voice is brittle but wizened and, like Drake, sounds ancient.
On the ambient side, the opener, “Fifth (The Impossibility of Death)” uses guitar effects, abstract reverb that winds itself into a coherent drone. Instrumentals like “Harmonics” showcase the Scot’s chops on the fretboard as well as on the console. He is seemingly a master at both, giving the guitar ample space within which to interact with the tones and loops with evocative ease.
The final track on “Collected Recordings”, “Like a Clock,” sums up the record perfectly. The songs of Gareth Dickson, constructed piece by piece over a number of years, maintain a steady comforting pulse, like a clock giving the illusion of stability even as they try to reign in the untamable. This is a gentle but defiant record, one that faces demons and sonic contradictions. 7/10 -- Mike Wood (12 August, 2009)