Review of Harp Swells [12k2059]

Clash Magazine (UK)

The tone for Will Samson’s new album Harp Swells is set neatly within the opening first view bars of ‘Beatrijs’ Theremin’ and doesn’t deviate dramatically for the following 35 minutes. Yes, this is ambient music.

People who are aware will know Will Samson for a clutch of indie folk albums over the past decade or so. A talented and sensitive songwriter whose music, listening back, always had a natural palliative quality to it. With the thread of healing running through a lot of his material, it makes sense that he would make a fully meditative album.

Harp Swells’was apparently all recorded on a 1970’s portable tape recorder, and it’s certainly full of all the pops, fizzes and warm saturation you might expect to hear from that. It does help tie the album together and neatly place it in a sonic world.

Of course, once you scratch the surface of anything, depth reveals more unto itself and ambient music is no different. Harp Swells is much more in the tuneful, melodic and approachable end of the spectrum. In fact it has one moment – the only track from the album released ahead of time ‘And Yet’ – that could probably live on one of Samson’s indie albums without anyone reaching for the incense and crystals.

The album was recorded in Portugal with a view over a river and, armed with that knowledge, it’s hard not to imagine the ebb and flow of a gentle sun-kissed current meandering through your speakers whilst listening to Harp Swells. Ultimately, Samson has made a beautiful album that adds another layer to an already interesting artist.

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