A world beyond
It isn't immediately obvious from 'Fantasia' for piano that James Batty, a young composer with a penchant for the more aesthetic elements of sound and form, is looking to redefine musical horizons. It's not until you get further into his debut solo offering that the electronica and dissonant soundscapes become more evident – on 'Reflexion' for instance, with its delightfully astringent piano and spectral background whispers courtesy of GenDyn. 'Giants', with its playful electroacoustic sound combined with unconventional percussive elements, is one of two compositions inspired by the later works of Jo Baer with all their associated historical, mythical and storytelling influences. 'Tree Rings' is a nod to Henry Moore and 'Deviations' opens up new perspectives on Michael Haneke's "Caché". Batty's reflections serve to create a discreet and restrained electroacoustic environment, transporting the listener to a dreamlike plane where modern flair meets more traditional elements. Batty impresses on 'Microcosm' with a dramatic configuration of pulsating undertow, natural tone sequences, crystal-clear piano and dissonant or barely audible overtones. In places, he manages to reach the same heights of caressing tenderness and minimalism that Baer used to achieve – particularly on 'Below the Edge' and 'Hexes'. 'Tree Rings' revels in combining a swirling siren and trickling ambient tones underscored by an urgent and ominous clicking. The dark, warbling beats and melancholy flute evident on 'Monarchy' capture Baer's "Royal Families (Curves, Points and Little Ones)", while the piano on 'Deviations' builds up to a ghostly crescendo, increasingly violent and shrill. The album ends with 'Balustrade', a track infused with a Theremin wail and a lashing, fizzing soundscape atop an electro pulse and subtle glissando. This is a masterful work bursting with otherworldly overtones and clattering deviations.
(English translation by Geoff Pearce)