[Reviewed by stark]
Tetherdown is a three-man venture consisting of Mark Beazley, Anne Garner and James Murray. Mark is the owner of Trace Recordings, and the musician in, among others, Band Of Holy Joy. Anne is a singer, but she also plays piano and flute. Under her own name she has released albums for Psychonavigation and Slowcraft. I don’t think I have to present James Murray as we’ve already reviewed two of his outputs in 2014. These three artists have joined forces, came into a studio one day and recorded some music, that immediately landed on a CD, without further editing and polishing.
“Wingbeats” is the first track, obviously of a strong ambient flavour, but also having a very cinematic feeling and – perhaps thanks to the specific sound of Anne Garner’s flute – having some distant connotations with 70s psychedelia. The instrument part, although improvised, has a clear melodic line, and the production and overall melancholic atmosphere make me think of some misty moors in Scotland.
After the first track of any new release I always wonder whether the following ones will be but a variation of the opening one, which sometimes is good, but more often makes me forget about the album even by the time it ends, or whether each composition will be like a mind-opening new adventure forcing me into a closer listen. “First Flight” is a little bit of both – because of the circumstances, the fact that they recorded the whole thing during one session and using the same instruments, it’s clear that the sound, the feeling of all pieces is more or less alike. But thanks to moving the accents here and there in “Pitch Roll and Yaw”, the mood becomes a bit lighter and hopeful. The mist is gone and the rays of the sun wash your face.
It gets warmer and warmer with each track. It’s “Thermals” now, you can take off your jacket, lay down and stare into the sky. The beginning is very blurry, the level of reverb is a bit higher than in the previous compositions. Somehow “Thermals” reminds me of the most peaceful offerings by Alio Die, but with Mark’s electric bass replacing Stefano Musso’s zither.
The last piece is called “Uplift” and again it has a warm, somewhat post-rock vibe. The guitar treated with reverb and delay effects makes me feel very calm in my comfort zone, enriching the palette of orange, red and brown shades of the evening outside my window. It’s the music of the beginning of the summer.
Of course it’s not an album the title of which will be written in golden letters in ambient history books, but thanks to the skills and creativity of the three musicians you can’t deny that it’s very pleasant in its reception, and possesses a shell of individuality. They had fun making it, I’m having fun listening to it. Wasn’t that the idea?