David Harrow / By The River 

By The River finds David Harrow dispensing, for a moment, with his trademark deft dub, and switching, instead, to glacial, hyper-detailed ambient. Serving up seven sublime slices of glittering, sparkling sound design. Harrow, here, reworking elements recorded live at L.A`s Modular On The Spot events – open air “synth picnics” – which, prior to the pandemic, took place on the 3rd Sunday of every month. Repurposing field recordings as loops and glitches, flickering fragments dancing like sunlight reflecting off snowflakes. Summoning solar winds from what could be treated temple gongs. Textured sequences are squeezed, and sent scurrying backwards, through phased passages. Dovetailed into dense lattices. Circuitry chattering and whispering. Blinking, bleeping, like deep space signals, way beyond Tranquility Base.

The standouts are those pieces where piano provides a melodic focus. The instrument pared down to slow careful notes, while the ripples resulting from their reverb fill the room. The plaintive tinkling taking the listener off somewhere. Peaceful? I’m not sure, but definitely thoughtful. Making a minute away from the bustle, for you to survey your surroundings, and, if you’re feeling brave enough, take stock. In places, the meditative, elegiac, improvisations, recall the beautiful series of collaborations between Harold Budd and John Foxx. Harrow’s high-points harbouring the same emotional pull. The closing track, Across The Lavaflow, seems to echo, and extrapolate on, Irresistible Force’s seminal remix of Coldcut’s cover of jazz standard, Autumn Leaves. It’s serene, strobing, dream-machine-like drift, floating even further out. David – whose catalogue contains countless classics – has said himself that he thinks it’s one of the best things he’s ever done. 

You can order By The River directly from David, on Bandcamp.

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