Ambeson - When Colours Flow

Owain Paciuszko 27/09/2010

Rating: 4/5

This LP from one man band Ambeson opens with a deceptive acoustic guitar melody on A Window To Look Through, carefully layering in a complimentary guitar line, and it carries on down much the same path until the two minute mark when a surge of electronic pulse introduces processed beats, twinkly bells and synths turning what was very pleasant and humble into something a little dazzling. It's a simple trick, but the hand is played oh so well by Ambeson aka Rich Keyworth.

Now that the cat is out the bag Carapace wears its acoustic-electro leanings on its sleeving, adding a piano line to the stop-start, jittery momentum akin to Aphex Twin in his more cinematic moods. The tracks on this record feel like part of a sequence, they bare many similarities in their structure, with Keyworth bringing something different to each tune that lends it enough variety from what went before, though on some songs it's easy to second guess where things are going.

Together We're Alone is a nursery rhyme of electro sunshine in much the same way as Orbital's Middle of Nowhere was a rush of light, all jangly, clipped bells and erratic time signatures. It veers off into more experimental territory, its beat continuing like a steady heartbeat, as the track at first turns into a riot of ideas, jostling for prominence before winding down to a standstill. Jeej continues the delicate theme, but with a more pulsing beat that suggests it could - at any moment - turn into a thunderous dancefloor anthem (it doesn't). It reminds of film-composer and musician Craig Armstrong, skipping carefree in that middle-ground between a piece of music arranged on a laptop and something composed with 'real' instruments; similarly it has the pop sensibility of William Orbit, specifically his record of classical covers.

A blippy gaggle of snatched sound jumps across the introduction to Our Blue Opel Friend like TV channels changed at high speed, then the track eases into more casual clothes, piano chords played our slowly over laidback drums and sampled wordless singing, like a Play-era Moby outtake. It wanders off down many different paths, and is a consistently interesting listen, the now familiar glockenspiel forming a backbone to the track's tangents. Closing track Tacheless features bells chiming like a pinball machine and the pop of ping pong balls, in between these sound collages the track drifts into all manner of stylistic territories, with harpsichord and loops vying for attention between the whistle of fireworks and handclaps.

Ambeson has a way with sounds, his tracks are consistently listenable, though occasionally sound like extensions of one another to the extent that it might as well be a remix of the same basic tune. But, there's enough intelligence and imagination at work across the length and breadth of this record that earmarks Ambeson as a considerable talent and this release is well worth your time.