Ian Hawgood & Danny Norbury – Faintly Recollected (Home Normal, 2018)

Memory is like a river course: a channel flowing down the slopes of life it burbles up from faint and unassuming beginnings, picking up speed and volume as it makes its way towards its final destination. It weaves and twists alongs its journey, reconfiguring and reworking itself as the environment changes and its supply alters through time. Sections of it appear to repeat, some are pinched off and lost forever, and others turn so sinuous and distant that we can scarcely remember them at all, nothing but a dream of time and place.

Ian and Danny explore this notion of plumbing, of reaching backwards, tickled perhaps by a sense of dejá vu or cast back by a particular sight or smell that turns back the flow of the river temporarily. This 30 minute moment is divided into sections but plays as a seamless entity, slowly ebbing and flowing to match the organic swirls of the current and tide.

Drone density establishes the record, a flickering textural mass that churns and roils softly, a steady stream of foundational energy. Cello strings hover and dip languidly, the attitude cool and relaxed, dancing close to the iciness of wist. There’s a blueness, but only for the melancholia of passing time, frost bleeding into the water from the banks but never halting the flow.

Any feeling of fugue ends as soon as the twinkling kalimba arrives, these delicate and quaint little thumb pickings trickling Durand-esque fragments of lightness out into the mix. They resonate and undulate, set a heartbeat like rhythm into the circling elongate strings with their lingering emotive strokes, little pearls of pleasantry that catch the light on the glossy surface of remembrance.

We sink into it, submerge ourselves into the past like a baptism of thought. It envelopes us in placid reverie, the music and slowly re-encroaching drone timeless and drifting, untethered. There is an untouchable perfection to reminiscence, and it spreads a radiant warmth out from its core to illuminate even the greyest and coldest Winter days and nights, lost in a dream of beauty and satisfaction.

Slowly it fades away, the lens recedes, the boat of recollection hauled from the water, leaving behind a quiet sense of repletion, satisfied we haven’t sullied the crystal clarity of the past and the pureness of its character. It’s time to return to reality and the unexplored watercourse that still lies ahead in all its alluring, unfolding mystery.

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