Phillip Carrington gets freely creative on this EP Alpha, letting his generally organic playing guide the way and building delicate, lightly colourful soundscapes in the process.
Concept, Practice, Perform is an interesting way to begin, the first minute or so gives off the illusion of this being all there is to it – which would be fine in itself as ambient music. After this point though, a mellow beat first comes into play, followed shortly afterwards by a more manic and again freely expressive drum-line.
From the track’s title, you get the idea there’s far more to this than meets the ear – as if the artist has deliberately built something conceptual and representative of an idea or a series of events. To bear this in mind as you listen is to appreciate the real artistry of the piece. As the bass and the drums take over and the guitar lingers reverb-soaked in the background, you’re aware of the progression or development that took place throughout – from the quiet of the bedroom to the vastness of the stage and the venue perhaps.
Headspace takes things in a similarly uninhibited direction but brings about a melancholic mood and a slightly medieval twang. As things move along, there’s a free-flowing, almost freestyle aura to the whole thing. Carrington utilizes each instrument as if it were a character in a play, and he utilizes volume and space in a similarly considerate fashion. Again, the title prompts you to relate this musical story-line to the often scattered and meandering nature of your own thoughts. The music has a softness that makes it easy to escape or meditate to in some respects, but there’s also that jazz-inspired unpredictability that attempts to guide or direct the journey somewhat – keeping you in tune and on the level with the artist. Towards the end of this six-minute-plus journey the energy again gathers momentum.
Where are you going? takes the form of an organ-style ambiance, feeling a little warmer, less spacious. The same characteristics emerge and keep that Alpha thread strong, but the mood is different and there’s a sense of movement and pace to this one. Later on things change entirely, organic becomes electronic, rhythm becomes stillness, manic movements become smooth waves of audio.
Day to Day follows and a simple, softly chaotic introduction reignites that organic vibe and leads you down a quiet street in some distant village. Again the structure sees things intensify towards the end. Another creative beat steps through. There’s no single instrument that is the heart of this project, just a thoroughly artistic connection to music itself.
The final track on the EP is Coffee, a personal favourite and a definite highlight. The mood set from the offset is easily appealing, the beat and the instrumentation create a jazz-cafe vibe that’s a pleasure to escape among. The tempo seems fit to accompany that of your own heart beat – most accurately after a coffee or two. The dashes of electric guitar that appear later on introduce a stylish dynamic across from the piano and the rather sporadic beat. Still the mood is joyful, manageable, as unpredictable as ever but welcomed and somewhat familiar at this later stage. A strong finish for what is a considerably original collection loaded with fresh expression and a clear sense of artistic identity. There’s very little else to compare this with right now. Easily worth a listen.