Review: Martyn Bates | Troum - To a Child Dancing in the Wind (2006)


bates_troum_childartist: Martyn Bates | Troum
release: To a Child Dan­cing in the Wind
format: CD
year of release: 2006
label: Trans­gredi­ent
dur­a­tion: 38:23

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com.

To a Child Dan­cing in the Wind is col­lab­or­a­tion of singer Martyn Bates (Eye­less in Gaza, Twelve Thou­sand Days) and Ger­man ambi­ent pion­eers Troum (pre­vi­ously part of Maeror Tri). These tracks were con­ceived in the course of mul­tiple years of edit­ing and send­ing record­ings back and forth. It has proven to be a fruit­ful effort, as this is a mar­vel­lous mini-album that will please both lov­ers of drift­ing dark ambi­ent and of Martyn’s unique voice.

Now, this isn’t the first time Bates has teamed up with an ambi­ent artist. Some may recall the series of Murder Bal­lads albums (Drift, Pas­sages, and Incest Songs) that Bates recor­ded with Mick Har­ris (Lull) in the mid-90s. This album is quite dif­fer­ent, though. The Murder Bal­lads were a com­bin­a­tion of extremely min­im­al­istic sound­scapes, and Martyn’s ghostly rendi­tions of tra­di­tional songs. To a Child Dan­cing in the Wind is some­how warmer, more dir­ect, yet still with a dark atmo­sphere. The sound­scapes (based on vari­ous instru­ments such as accor­dion, bass and balalaika) and vocals seem more in tune with each other, and mutu­ally sup­port­ive, cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful and well-crafted whole.

The album is based on five poems by W.B. Yeats, presen­ted with Bates’ usual emo­tional voice that is imme­di­ately recog­nis­able. Opener “Mad As The Mist And Snow #2” is one of the best songs, with a strong buildup of excel­lent drones based on accor­dion. But the song is car­ried by Martyn’s vocals and the subtle back­ing voices of Troum. “The Arrow” is a shorter track, with a slightly obscur­ing effect on the vocals. “The Magi”, though based on a poem, is an instru­mental with a scary atmo­sphere, and it is dom­in­ated by Martyn’s har­mon­ica solo. “I Made My Song” is com­pletely a capella, with only slight vocal effects. Then fol­lows the abso­lute high­light: the title track. “To A Child Dan­cing In The Wind” dis­plays best the per­fect syn­thesis of rich sound­crafts, voice and back­ing vocals. The poem is stun­ning as well, mak­ing this a breath­tak­ing exper­i­ence. The album ends with an instru­mental reprise of the first track, with Martyn play­ing har­mon­ica instead of singing.

For me, this is an instant clas­sic, and it comes warmly recom­men­ded. All I can say is: “more, please…”

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Mad As The Mist And Snow #2 (12:59)
2. The Arrow (3:49)
3. The Magi (4:55)
4. I Made My Song (2:44)
5. To A Child Dan­cing In The Wind (4:18)
6. Mad Reprise (9:38)

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