Ian William Craig

Thresholder

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AllMusic Review by

Thresholder consists of previously unreleased pieces recorded by Canadian composer Ian William Craig in between the release of his 2014 breakthrough A Turn of Breath and the more ambitious and refined 2016 opus Centres. While it could be viewed as a clearinghouse of outtakes as Craig works diligently on his next major album, the tracks are sequenced so that they form a coherent whole. It doesn't exactly tell a story, and it's certainly not as lyrical as Centres, but it does seem to follow some sort of path, as nebulous and unclear as it might be. The album is inspired by concepts of deep space and black holes, and it seems to weightlessly drift, yet there are some unknown forces pulling things into untold directions. As usual, Craig constructs his music with several tape decks, looping stations, synthesizers, guitars, and his own classically trained voice, which serves as the most haunting, expressive instrument of all. His vocals slowly waft in and are suspended in midair, stuck in a moment and gradually corroded and transformed, seeming to approach a sense of clarity but never arriving at it. Waves of shimmering church organ enhance the music's spiritual qualities on early standout "Some Absolute Means," while the brief, sparse "Idea for Contradiction 1" comes close to sounding like Gregorian chanting. The album's eeriest moment is the apparition-like melody of "The Last Wesbrook Lament," which then flows into the half-dissolved cries and tape smudge of "Discovered in Flat." The release feels like what could've been, whereas Centres actually was, but it's still a beautiful, mystifying recording.

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