Reviewed by Adrian Cherrill
Improvisation seems to be creeping into music a little bit more these days and who better to treat us a whole album's worth than two of Britain's most talented musicians? There has long been more to Troy and Dave than Iona, and in recent years (especially during the gaps between Iona's output) these two have played plenty of gigs together and have now begun to record together as well. But 'From Silence' is no ordinary live recording. Played live in Lincoln Cathedral, but with no audience, it has been recorded in binaural stereo. This is where someone (in this case recording engineer Dallas Simpson) walks around during the recording wearing a pair of microphones instead of headphones. It sounds a bit strange but the results are stunning, especially if you listen to it, as intended, on a pair of headphones yourself. Believe me you can hear everything, as well as the instruments there are creaking seats, doors opening occasionally and I'm sure some bells ringing at one point but it all adds to the atmosphere and ambience as Troy and Dave take inspiration from their grand surroundings. Instruments move from left to right and back as Dallas moves around, and change sound as he moves between a selection of different speakers. At one point Troy and Dave suddenly just 'swap sides' as Dallas obviously just turns round. Simple, but very effective. What of the actual music then? Well the style is a familiar Celtic one, as you would expect, with Troy playing a selection of whistles and the familiar Uilleann Pipes and Dave creating the swirling soundscapes on the keyboards, bouzouki and guitar. There are both quiet moments and rising crescendos and there is interesting use of effects and looping as well, to enable more depth to the sound. It's difficult to pick stand out tracks from only six but Part Three, Part Four and Part Six have the best variation and all round effect, but it really needs to be listened to as a whole to get the most from the recording. With all the new techniques of recording these days, from using your own computer to 5.1 stereo surround sound, it's refreshing that something like this has been done, and been done well.
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