Hold Everything Dear

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With the snippets of children playing and talking leading into a shimmer of wind chimes and distant drones on "How Soon Now...," Cindytalk begins its 2011 album Hold Everything Dear with the same sense of exploratory extremity that defined what had become a 30-year career at this point; even more than ever, realizing there was as much power in silence and restraint as in rampages. Settling in on the Mego label for what had become a newly prolific time under the name seems to have been perfect for him, though core figure Gordon Sharp indicated in interviews that both it and the earlier releases had been worked on in one form or another for up to a decade prior -- notably, Hold Everything Dear was the final writing collaboration between Sharp and Matt Kinnison before the latter's death in 2008. Yet, while the earlier Mego releases thus provide a greater context for Hold Everything Dear, it still can be enjoyed for its own entrancements. As the slow, on-the-verge-of-hearing swoops and tones around a quiet, unsettled section of seeming silence on "In Dust to Delight" demonstrates, Cindytalk can make the seemingly calm feel not merely beautifully compelling, but gripping, if not threatening. The latter quality may come out best on songs like "Hanging in the Air," sudden rhythmic shudders of sound arcing through like some of the best work of Sharp's friend and collaborator Robert Hampson, but with its own clear style and impact. The blending of field recordings and studio work throughout is not, nor is it meant to be, a suddenly new sonic approach, but a continuing reminder of the power of that potential to be realized; regardless of the source of the sounds, the distant impressions of activity throughout on pieces like "Fly Away from Here" and "From Rokko-San" open up the sense of space suggested in striking fashion. Sharp's improvisations on piano recur throughout the album as a further contrasting element, often, as on "Fallen Obi," as serene contemplation, even as some sonic violence emerges but never explodes.

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