on this album xian hawkins composed an impressive array of well-orchestrated pieces where he combines live instruments (cello, bass, guitars, violin, drums, etc) with slow melodic grooves and laid-back percussion. the result is a peculiar balance of warm atonal ambient washes, organic melodic passages and downtempo beats.
I guess the reason why I grew to like this album so slowly is that there are a few tracks scattered around the album that are too quiet and unchanging, breaking the harmony of the cd. however, if you try to listen to the whole album as one solid piece where those tracks are merely a transitional elements between really amazing pieces (the fact that most of the tracks are barely three minutes long seems to confirm this theory), it works out just perfectly.
my favorites on this album are "rocks in your head" that has a nicely polyphonic sound mixing live bells with several layers of faster percussion and touches of deep atonal strings. "afterlife" is another favorite with its mellow strings and mix of mechanized textures and traditional instruments. "suspiral" is downright mysterious, playing with echoing slightly corroded atmospheric sweeps, while small percussion develops on top of these rich ambient textures filled with organic noises. slow deep bass and nice transitions and meaningful pauses filled with strings and fading noises make this track absolutely unforgettable.
what amazes me the most is how well all the instruments work together. acoustic guitar slowly leads you into sliding strings that are backed by small noises and warm atmospheric washes on "serena" that slowly moves into "demiser" where mechanical frequencies pierce gentle sonic textures. playful percussion builds among the sparse atonal touches and lush melodic elements. closing "evrgrn" is a simple and very "visual" track that could be a perfect soundtrack for a constable's painting.
intimate and sensuous sound of this album is something that I cannot really classify. at times playful and almost funky, at times quiet and melancholic, at times intricate and deep, it always has a very refined ambiance that might be a little too peaceful for an idm fan, or a little too light for a dark ambient devotee. I enjoy this album for its emotional side as well as very unusual composition and unique combination of instruments.