Peter Chilvers

Stormwatcher

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Chilvers' second solo album on the Burning Shed label was inspired by The Stormwatcher, a tale of modern fantasy by British writer Graham Joyce. Those who have read the book will likely get a fuller sense of appreciation out of it as a result, but as a stand-alone effort this is perfectly captivating in its own right. Unlike He Wrote This, Stormwatcher is strictly and thoroughly solo, while the range of instrumentation is much greater than on the previous album, steering away from solely guitar and bass pieces to an expanded artistic palette. String and wind orchestrations along with a variety of keyboard tones help create a lush, mysterious feeling -- certainly the just portentous enough "Intro" helps convey the feeling of a summer thundercloud forming in the sky. The delicate "Jessie," named after one of the novel's key characters, almost has the feeling of a guitar-as-harpsichord, while "Language of Angels" arguably trumps that with its astonishingly focused, almost-barely-there glaze of soft guitar and synths. Meanwhile, "Melanie," also named after a lead figure, and the extremely lovely "Pere Lachaise," with its combined string overdubs, further show hints of the kind of striking work normally the field of such figures as In the Nursery. The emphasis generally is on the minimal and suggestive, though, and certainly many pieces act as logical extensions to the dreamy Fripp & Eno-inspired soundscapes of He Wrote This. "First Mirror," with its combination of high-tone drone loop and slightly echoed click track, and its two similar counterparts, "Second Mirror" and "Third Mirror," particularly shine in this regard. "First Storm" is another highlight with its compressed, cycling feedback loop, while "Final Storm/Cornfield," as befits its climactic title, has just enough cinematic-scoped grandeur and looming threat to suggest a dramatic conclusion.

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