After a variety of releases with both Samuel Smiles and Alias Grace, Chilvers fully stepped to the fore with He Wrote This, a series of experimental tracks performed using only (often treated) bass and the play-with-two-hands modern guitar, the Chapman Stick. The wit of the title is appropriate -- it's a line from This Is Spinal Tap, used to refer to said band's bassist Derek Smalls and his own solo live improvisation. Unlike the intentionally ham-handed idiocy of that performer, though, Chilvers is both serious and talented with his own work. There are clear echoes of the ambient work of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp -- opening track "Traffic" in particular carries hints of the former's work on On Land and the "Prophecy Theme" from Dune. When Chilvers uses the Chapman Stick, the parallels hold and continue, at times suggesting the at once playful and alien vibe of everything from Aphex Twin's calmer work to childhood lullabies. Songs like the clearly enough titled "Stick A" and "Dirty Stick" are excellent demonstrations of his abilities, the latter in particular exploring endless loops of feedback with cascading guitar sparkles through the background. "Stick G," meanwhile, concludes the album with a lovely ten-minute meditation on sound, evocative and dreamlike. The two vocalists he normally works with -- Samuel Smiles frontman Tim Bowness and Alias Grace singer Sandra O'Neill -- both take guest bows as well. Bowness does a solo turn on "All the Beautiful Things," one of the more conventional rockers on the album, his singing intimate and intense, high in the mix, while Chilvers creates a looming, threatening background just on the verge of exploding. Meanwhile, both singers appear on "Broken Things," O'Neill contributing background vocals that swirl with the music as Bowness again has a very upfront, direct delivery.
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