More ambient minimalism for you now. You know, no piano album is going to trump Goldmund’s ‘Famous Places’ for me this year. Of that I am completely sure. However, I keep stumbling across some wonderful piano records from 2010 and this is yet another lovely record.
M.Ostermeier has created a very peaceful piece of music in ‘Chance Reconstruction.’ Melancholic in tone, piano pieces drift in and out, complimented by field recordings and abstract electronics. I wouldn’t say there is a total Godlmund-esque quality to the work, but there are certainly nods in that direction throughout. This for me is a bit more sparse. A little more disconnected than the work of Keith Kennif. Always with his music I feel I am listening to piano compositions complimented by field records, strings and electronics. With this record I feel like the piano is more fragmented at times. That the electronics take centre stage now and again and the piano drifts in to accompany. I like that about this record. It’s definitely a piano album first and foremost. However, the arrangements are interesting in themselves and I love the way the piano flits from being the focus to the accompaniment. It makes for a lovely, engaging record. I absolutely love this quote I found about the record:
“The hesitant piano melodies take on an almost conversational form, but from someone repeating and rephrasing his thoughts as he talks to himself, imagining different outcomes of some unfortunate event.”
I don’t think I could have said it better if I tried, so I won’t! What a wonderful description.
You can and should check out the work of M.Ostermeier here. Enjoy.
In yonder days of Kays we supported I Like Trains at Cabaret Voltaire. It was actually the first time I met Rich from Gizeh Records as he was working as a guitar tech for them – or something like that, anything to tour eh Rich?! Anyways, they were pretty stunning live. I remember this gig for a number of reasons. Matthew Young from Song By Toad reviewed us at that gig. A very nice review too. It was actually a hilarious review as he was being very funny in it and it spawned the famous t-shirt ‘The Kays Lavelle Were Shit’, which are still in existence I think. I certainly have a couple. Anyways, the point was that that night I was exposed to the full force and intensity of an I Like Trains show. Although at that time I believe they were called iLiKETRAiNS…..thank god they got rid of that way of writing their name!
Their last album ‘Elegies To Lessons Learnt’ really should have propelled the band to a new level. However, it seems that ultimately it has led to them releasing this album on their own, without any label involvement. I can certainly find no evidence of a label. So, it seems that that album, which is brilliant, failed to take them to the level that many, including myself had expected.
The music on that record is dark, brooding, aggressive. It’s a concept album based on tragic historical events and figures, which only adds to the intensity of it. When you see them live, the visuals behind them tell the story of each song. It really is quite something, believe me. So, I was expecting something equally dark, equally atmospheric, equally hard work with this new record. And at times I would say the I Like Trains of the debut record are in evidence, in particular on tracks like ‘Hope Is Not Enough.’ However, this album feels more instantly accessible than it’s predecessor. Even the chorus of ‘Hope Is Not Enough’ feels more like a pop chorus – if that could be possible – than anything that happened on Elegies. This album feels like I Like Trains have matured and perhaps their music has grown in maturity in tandem. I don’t know, that’s just the impression that I get.
Album opener ‘When We Were Kings’ was certainly a surprise. The Explosions In The Sky type guitars to open, and throughout this album, are stunning. There’s a warmth in this record, an undercurrent, that was never apparent on Elegies. Choruses are also in evidence. I’m not sure, there’s just something about the record that feels more instantly accessible without ever being instantly accessible, if that’s possible? I guess what I mean is that it is instantly accessible in terms of I Like Trains, which is not really instantly accessible at all but if you like this band you’ll know what I mean, I hope! The record is still dense, it still needs lots of attention and time. But tracks like ‘Progress Is A Snake’, ‘These Feet of Clay’, and album stand outs ‘Hope Is Not Enough,’ ‘Sea Of Regrets’ and ‘Broken Bones’ highlight a more beautiful side to this band. The darkness sometimes lifts and when it does, it does so in a sea of stunning beauty.
I never thought the words I’d use to describe this record would be beautiful, delicate, gorgeous and stunning. Sure, the elements of darkness are there but ultimately, for me, I Like Trains have produced a simply wonderful second record and, if there’s any justice, one which will propel them to greater heights. Probably not, but if they keep producing music this good I will keep buying their records, that’s for sure.
You can check out I Like Trains here. Enjoy.