Music Reviews

Artist: Western Edges (@)
Title: Prowess
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence Records (@)
Rated: *****
It seems as though many of the artists who find their way to the Sound in Silence label have had their fingers in other musical pies, and such is the case with Western Edges. You may know its architect, Richard Adams from his Leeds, UK, experimental post-rock band Hood, or his Yorkshire, UK slowcore/shoegaze/semi-ambient outfit, The Declining Winter. (Mr. Adams has been involved in a number of other projects as well, but rather than get too far afield, you can investigate them on your own.) Me, I've never heard any of it previously, but I found some tracks to listen to just to get a sense of what he was doing- lots of DIY non-mainstream eclecticism, not all of it wonderful but flashes of brilliance here and there. While Western Prowess may be closer to The Declining Winter in tone and temperament than Hood, they really sound nothing alike. Western Edges is completely instrumental electronic/ambient. The approach here is minimal, in set pieces that vary little over time, but are different from track-to-track. The first, "You Look So Beautiful From Up Here" is reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream at its most ambient with no rhythmic sequencing. It's a bit stark but not unpleasant. "Suddenly: A Dream" uses two slow moving organish chords with some echo and a bit of semi-abstract melody. Innocuous but nice. "Western Edges" is bleak drone with some pitch changes. "Solid Gold Soul" has a rhythm track to it and is reminiscent of some of the ambient stuff you'd hear on the San Francisco based Silent Records label. "You're Going To Miss Me My Love" is a contrast in lows and highs with a low bass line and higher lead line playing the same minimal melody while another synth enters to fill in some gaps in the counterpart. "All Downhill From Here" is shimmery echoey and repetitive in it's less than two minute existence. Big sky pads and some eventual rhythm graces "Very Good On The Rushes" which adds synths as it goes along. "Absence" is the longest track on the album at 7:11, and perhaps the most intriguing as it unfolds and evolves, eventually incorporating a minimal beat buried deep in the background. When the bass comes in you're almost expecting it to turn into something much grander, but it just hangs in the air like a ghost. While simplicity can be beautiful, and there is no doubt that 'Prowess" is a simple affair, the scant 27 minutes in total of this work makes it seem more like a sampler platter than a full-course feast. Yet, it has its charm and pleasantry which adds to the replay factor. As usual with Sound in Silence releases, limited numbered edition (300), in a custom cardstock sleeve with photo front, and download code included.

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