A violinist who was once a member of The Durutti Column, John Metcalfe has quite the CV. Having previously provided arrangements for Morrissey, Blur and Bat For Lashes, as well as co-producing Peter Gabriel’s more recent orchestral records, his own music is a fascinating dovetailing of genres, with little regard for convention.
At some points, it’s like drum and bass invading the tensely stirring soundtracks of some late night Nordic drama series, while at others it is as optimistically uplifting as the early morning light delivering fresh possibilities. If that sounds nauseously pretentious, don’t be too quick to raise your eyebrows.
Metcalfe has talked in interviews of experiencing synaesthesia, whereby the brain interweaves sensory stimuli attaching colours to sounds or other such simultaneous pairings, and ‘The Appearance Of Colour’ explores those sensations in relation to the world around him. With track titles like ‘Kite’, ‘Just Let Go’ and ‘Sycamore’, the sense of freedom provided by the great outdoors looms large over these sonic explorations.
Take opener ‘Sun’, which clocks in at just over twenty minutes and ranges across a variety of tones in the process of soundtracking a twenty-four hour period in the titular orb’s existence as experienced from one beautiful location. The ebullient final passage, which feels like a euphoric outpouring after the ebb and flow of frenetic beats and claustrophobic ambient washes that have gone before, is one of several moments of magic on this increasingly affecting record.
It takes a little time for it all to come together, and your concentration is certainly required to avoid it becoming tasteful backing music, but ‘The Appearance Of Colour’ is an often beautiful record. Despite clocking in at over an hour, it’s a rather subtle collection that perhaps works best when taken out into the world it so keenly celebrates. A nocturnal walk with ‘Besancon’ or an early morning drive to ‘Gold, Green’ suddenly transport these pieces to their rightful home.
A precise pleasure, then, but this is an album to turn to when nature needs more than a simple pop song to do it justice.
Words: Gareth James
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