The ambient composer strikes gold with these pretty arrangements, reminding why his career hasn’t fallen victim to the passing of time
Ambient composer Roger Eno’s new record is based loosely around the concept of time passing: the future becomes the present and then the past with unnerving swiftness, leaving us with the impressionistic and unreliable memories that are depicted in The Turning Year. Piano, strings and occasional snatches of ethereal post-production all interlink to create a calm, contemplative soundscape, with a slightly lo-fi aesthetic throughout for extra comfort.
Hymn is a perfect example of this, the gentle thirds on piano separated first by poignant empty space and latterly by a sonic ripple, emanating from the chords but forming a rather different inflection. Meanwhile, A Place We Once Walked opens with a simple piano motif outlining a minor key, before some swooping strings enter to add some modality, all tossed aside briefly in favour of a lush, dynamic middle section.
While none of The Turning Year’s songs are bound to a strict tempo, Something Made Out Of Nothing feels especially hesitant. The ostinatos ring out sporadically, mapping out a chord IV that rarely moves and never resolves, with the strings’ stretched-out notes making less a wall of sound, more a gossamer veil. Clearly keeps the pulse with repeated piano notes, and they hover delicately above while stoic chords rumble beneath.
On an album mostly committed to simple hallmarks the less common elements perk up the eardrums, whether it’s the reedy woodwind melody of On The Horizon or the sustained organ notes of Stars And Wheels. Here the squeak of the stool and the static of room ambience are long gone as an element of timestretching interacts with the church’s natural acoustics, the effect is otherworldly and beautiful.
The more instrumentally talented Eno has struck gold with these pretty arrangements, providing a worthy reminder of why his career hasn’t fallen victim to the passing of time.