Review of A Colour For Autumn [12k1052]

The Silent Ballet (US)

A Colour for Autumn – a name for an album that seems first a simple statement of purpose, then becomes paradoxical. For there is no guarantee that two persons perceive a color in the same way; just because we all call the sky ‘blue’ does not mean that our experience of “blueness” is in any way universal. Because we cannot see the world from other perspectives, we are limited to the mere assumption that our sense-experience (in this case, of color) is the same across those who perceive it. So how can Lawrence English provide us with a color for anything (let alone Autumn, a season known for its vibrant explosions of color) when we cannot be sure that what we see is the same? The answer is that in English’s role as artist, as dictator of our experience, he can attempt to unify disparate perspectives into one whole. That’s not to say that we all will experience A Colour for Autumn in the same way, but rather that the intention behind the creation of the work has its own power, a power that the blank, blue expanse of sky does not possess. That’s the theory, anyway, and English manages to do it justice.

The album rests upon a series of Autumnal field recordings, taken from locations around the world. The disparate nature of these samples pays homage to the subjectivity of perception inherent in the project, but no matter how separate the locations may be (Parisian Autumns and those of Australia can’t be much further apart, geographically or temporally), they are brought together by their relationship to the season. English’s deft manipulation then brings the recordings even closer together, blurring the line between found sound and that which is created – and it is here where the artist’s intention can bend experience to his will, unifying it whilst maintaining the identity of each piece. The result is a series of separate tracks that belong together, rather than a seamless whole – an important result, as English manages to unify the perceptions of Autumn without turning them into one. In this way, English creates A Colour for Autumn, while still respecting the variety of possible perceptions of the color and season.

As I write this, the heat is beginning to rise in my Northern Hemisphere home, so I cannot physically get much further from English’s interpretation of Autumn. Nevertheless, the soft, cool drones and occasional touches of recognizable instrumentation that characterize the release help to keep me in an Autumnal state of mind. A Colour for Autumn won’t define the ambient genre for years to come, and it may struggle to stand out amid the stellar 12k lineup. It is, however, sophisticated in its presentation and nearly flawless in execution. From the vocals that open “Droplet” to the last few winding seconds of “…And Clouds for Company”, the beauty of the release shines through. This critic cannot ask for much more from Mr. English’s attempt to create A Colour for Autumn – there may be ambient releases this year that have more flash, but few will be able to consistently realize their aims as well as this one has.

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