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Album Review: Kevin Purdy - Illumination

28 June 2012 | 3:33 pm | Bob Baker Fish

It’s Purdy at his most experimental, yet also most creative, on an exciting risk-taking album that really pushes his artistic and creative boundaries.

In his first album under his full name, the Sydney-based artist formerly known as Purdy returns with a new direction. His previous three solo albums, and to some extent his criminally underrated work in Tooth, served up a smorgasbord of sun-kissed psychedelic exotica, with traces of everything from kosmische to electronic pop, yet for Illumination Purdy strips back his ingredients dramatically.

What's left is an E-bow and guitar alongside some synth, as well as field recordings. Interestingly, he's also stripped back his melodic desire for structure. We're not talking about songs anymore, rather we're dealing with evocative pieces of sound, large sweeping textures that initially bring to mind the sci-fi noir of Vangelis' Blade Runner score. There's a density to the music too, with things whirring and bubbling beneath sustained drones and gentle runs of notes, offering a drifting, outer space-like quality.

The third track, Mountains Dreaming, is the only beat-based tune, perhaps the closest to his earlier work, yet it's slow and heavy, and the textures just float on by regardless, almost ignoring the percussion. If anything the beats make it feel even more amorphous, a demonstration of what Purdy hasn't chosen to anchor his sounds to.

Here Above, In Silence is the best track on the album; highly textural, Purdy delves into gentle, childlike melodic sound art, with field recordings of birds, and bizarre unexplained textural sounds, while also fiddling with sweeping, lush synth pads. It's the finale, Cloud Shadows On Hill, that marks Purdy's greatest departure. It's an at times atonal experimental piece, with scraping strings and creepy close mic'd wordless vocals from guest Amanda Stewart. It's Purdy at his most experimental, yet also most creative, on an exciting risk-taking album that really pushes his artistic and creative boundaries. 

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