The second album from Paul Baran and Gordon Kennedy as The Cray Twins is an expansive and spectacular affair, featuring a broad range of instrumentation- synthesizers aplenty, but also organs, flutes, clarinets, occasional vocal work, casual interference of found sound, and more. These are respectfully arranged in a manner that seems to imbue narrative, and which allows each to have massive quantities of breathing space, retaining musicality for the most part but also allowing periods of structureless ambience. But it’s never just lazy or over-comfortable- tonally there’s always something being expressed.
The main piece is the 38-minute title track. Single chime sounds resonate extensively. Operatic soprano vocal tones are so distant and so treated that they sound like either field recordings or exhumed archive material. Under this runs a series of slowly shifting and evolving hums and warm drones that knit the otherwise fairly disparate sounds together. In the final few minutes it’s bold organ chords that walk purposefully to the fore, adding to the sense of theatrical structure and sounding more than a little bit sci-fi to boot, particularly in the almost daftly gothic final crescendo.
Two additional tracks complete the work. “The Absence Of Architects” showcases a spoken word poem, under which runs spaced-out analogue synths and floaty synth work ploughing prog rock-ish melodic paths. “Anarchitects” also offers some spoken word context over lullaby-like chime sounds and slightly disquieting wind noises, before contrasting sharper-sounding synth arp noises against the soft vocal tones that seep through the wind noise.
The poetry in the second and third pieces didn’t quite connect with me and it felt somehow unnecessary, but other than that one subjective detail, this is a refreshing open-minded musical approach that underlies this extremely polished and accomplished release that really stands out for both character and quality.