Review: Peter Wright / The North Sea / Agitated Radio Pilot (2005) 1


artist: Peter Wright / The North Sea / Agit­ated Radio Pilot
release: Split
format: CD-R, MP3
year of release: 2005, 2007
label: Deser­ted Vil­lage
dur­a­tion: 63:05

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

This three way split is from the earlier days of the Irish Deser­ted Vil­lage label, but it is one the sold out releases that they have put up for free down­load on the web. Good thing, because this is an excel­lent album full of acous­tic sound­scapes and impro­visa­tions from each artist.

Peter Wright opens the album with three tracks of warm, bright drones. In the begin­ning of the slowly devel­op­ing “Plume” we can still hear the indi­vidual twanging of strings, but they slowly sub­merge into waves of relax­ing amber drones. Near the end of the track, a very subtle change in tone is intro­duced, which forms the bridge to second track, “Corus­ca­tion”, which in its turn also fades seam­lessly into “Heat Haze”. Alto­gether, this may not be a ground­break­ing set of tracks, but it surely gets the job done. This is acoustic-based shim­mer­ing ambi­ent by the book, and guar­an­teed to make you drift away for twenty minutes.

Brad Rose’s The North Sea is in an early stage here, com­pared to more recent releases. On this split, he focuses solely on impro­visa­tional piano tracks. Some­times with, some­times without effects, he man­ages to per­petu­ate the calm relax­ing atmo­sphere of the split so far, while adding a touch of his own. Here and there these songs are sweet, but they can also be vague or estranging, or mel­an­cholic at times.

The best is saved for last though. Here we hear David Colo­han as Agit­ated Radio Pilot, and in sound­scape mode. Now, he did that occa­sion­ally on sev­eral releases, but rarely so fine as here, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing this is from 2005. “Broken Hill” intro­duces us imme­di­ately to this style, with layered accor­dion and organ drones. Subtle melodic pro­gres­sions and live sounds are woven together to cre­ate a breath­tak­ing mel­an­cholic sound­scape. The short and beau­ti­ful “For Karen Ava” is based on a sad cello melody, later sup­por­ted by organ drones and faint crack­ling, which serves, in a way, as lovely per­cus­sion. The split ends with “Umber­um­berka”, which is again based on organ drones, embel­lished by more cello, but also by David’s word­less vocals. These are three abso­lutely won­der­ful tracks, and only with the superb “The Bar­ren Ground Assembly” was he able to equal this level, at least in term of ambi­ent. Some of the best acous­tic sound­scapes I know of, and I hope Agit­ated Radio Pilot will con­tinue to make them like this.

All in all, this is an excel­lent split, full of calm and emo­tional music. Try to find the ori­ginal ver­sion second hand some­where, or per­haps even bet­ter, down­load this for free, but whatever you do, don’t pass this one by if you like any of these pro­jects, or great acous­tic and/or ambi­ent music in gen­eral.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

Peter Wright:
1. Plume (9:58)
2. Corus­ca­tion (4:21)
3. Heat Haze (5:44)

The North Sea:
4. Embroidered Cop­per (4:08)
5. Batik (7:13)
6. Kal­eido­scope Silk Print (3:02)
7. Ferns Pressed in Paper (7:29)

Agit­ated Radio Pilot:
8. Broken Hill (8:55)
9. For Karen Ava (3:49)
10. Umber­um­berka (8:26)