James Leyland Kirby

Eager to Tear Apart the Stars

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Ominous piano and high-pitched textures begin James Leyland Kirby's Eager to Tear Apart the Stars, showing that from the start, with "The Arrow of Time," Kirby is happily interested in continuing the exploration of instrumental moods previously demonstrated on the three-disc Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was. As compared to that monster release, Eager is a shorter affair at 45 minutes, but the concentration may help in demonstrating his remarkable grasp of cryptic, sometimes darkly evocative sonics, and not always in a gloomy fashion. In contrast to the starting track, "This Is the Story of Paradise Lost" has a more soothing impact, the similar but lighter sounding combination feels like a lost snippet of atmospheric music from somewhere in 1985 which turns into extended, reflective elegance. A similar feeling colors "No Longer Distance Than Death," where bursts of scraggly noise gently rub up against the choral washes and the sense of sighing space that other tones slide through -- an element at once seemingly new age in a stereotypical sense, but much more than that. Meanwhile, the concluding "My Dream Contained a Star" -- piano again prominent and set against an engaging, melancholic synth backing -- concludes the album in lovely fashion. Elsewhere, "They Are All Dead, There Is No Skip at All" verges a bit into what seems like Disco Inferno/Avalanches territory, thanks to the sense of feedback and static muffling of what could be a strange, sparkling interlude from a '50s musical movie number, but it retains its own feeling, at once beautifully moving and a little unsettling.

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