What with the word ‘bedroom’ being thrown around so much lately, it seems appropriate that amidst the muck of bedroom folk, bedroom rock, and bedroom drone, there exists the world of bedroom electronics. I’m not saying that Ben Chatwin composes and records in the bedroom, but I suppose it’s also unlikely that anyone really
does, at least exclusively. In any case, maybe Talvihorros’ “It’s Already on Fire” will at least make you feel like crawling to the bedroom for a lapse into dreamy-time explorations back through your mind gardens. The disc is the perfect launch-pad for reflection and somber thought. Chatwin uses a combination of organic and electronic sounds, often blurring the lines between the two and making me wonder, “alright, is that sampled? Is that even a sample or is that purely synthesized? What
is that…I don’t recognize it,” and it goes on. It’s a strange land, and there are signposts along the way, bringing me back to a world I can identify with, but there are also these mysterious elements that make me slightly uncomfortable.
“It’s Already on Fire” spans eleven tracks of varying lengths—some as brief as under two minutes, and others over six. The songs are built mostly upon a foundation of very recognizable orchestration—guitars, piano, and the like. Some musicians will throw a whole bunch of instruments into a track in an attempt to flesh the track out, but the product is often a bit messy—a crowded room and everyone is talking too much and too loud. Chatwin has no qualms about filling the room with his little orchestra of guitars, computer-generated atmospherics, and field recordings, but this peripheral sound comes as a kind of choral compliment to the organic tenets of the pieces. The track “Different Shades” is built like this—the foundation being an eerie piano iteration that lopes around and changes slightly. It undergoes harsh computer treatment at times, and sometimes is whisked up by swells of ambient drone, but it keeps returning a piano—the main artery of the piece.
Mood is important—especially with a slower, more deliberately sequenced and recorded kind of music. This disc definitely comes off sounding deliberate, even when things begin to become chaotic-sounding. Every instrument and sound is placed with certain intention, and the effect of all the parts ends up creating this whole that at a distance looks quite accidental. Do we hear ten individual musicians in a room, meandering through the afternoon, each with a different instrument or computer in their laps? Or is it the work of one man with a keen channel into himself, solid attention to detail, and a well-drawn schematic for how to create towers of sound from a series of otherwise dismissed sonic scraps? At a time now when we have already explored so much of the realm of computer music, it is refreshing to hear something that manages to evade the grasp of stagnancy. “It’s Already on Fire” up close is easily dissected into its individual parts, but just a slight distance allows this eerie emotion and subtle nostalgia to creep in, and this is perhaps right where Talvihorros wants you to be. You may have thought you knew what it would sound like, or perhaps you thought that this couldn’t possibly make you feel anything—but hang on just a few minutes…what’s that you were saying? Yes, you’re digging it, aren’t you?
Surprisingly, this is still available from the Gizeh site, and Talvihorros has another limited CD arriving within days now on the (sadly closing!) label Benbecula. Look for it. The era of heavy electronic sequencing and composition may be over for some, but Ben Chatwin has found a way to preserve this laborious technique, and we’re fortunate for that. It’s not dance, IDM, or any of that other stuff you’d expect when you hear ‘electronic music’, but it’s sure to make you stop and listen for a good hour. 8/10 -- Michael Jantz (2 September, 2009)