Cousin Silas "The Sound Of Silas" 2xCDr
Cousin Silas (aka Dave Hughes) is an enormously prolific soundsculptor based in Huddersfield, UK, who is active since 2001 releasing his music almost entirely on digital formats. So that's the main reason Cousin Silas' music has remained unknown to me until then end of September 2014, when a double CDr album "The Sound Of Silas" was announced by We Are All Ghosts netlabel run by Thomas Mathie aka Headphonaught (Motherwell, UK), who strongly supports this highly crafted ambient guitar soundscaper since 2012. The double album is packaged in a really catchy 6-panel fold out digipak hand-made by Brin Coleman (known as Bing Satellites) with gorgeous photographies by Ukrainian artist Oleg Tishkovets and extensive liner notes about Cousin Silas story by Kevin Lyons. "The Sound Of Silas", as the first physical release of We Are All Ghosts, was released in limited edition of 100 copies and, unfortunately, it was sold out in one month. Yes, I understand I am coming with this review a way too late, but you can always grab a digital version of this stunningly magnificent recording and I still really hope one day a reissue of this double album will see the light of day, because there is much huger potential in it, I would certainly love to see this reissued in a glass mastered version for example!!! That's my dream, even if I am one of those 100 happy owners of this monstrous double CDr beauty!!! Anyway, I always wanted to pen down my feelings about this utterly immersing gem, I won't hesitate to even use the word milestone, yes, that's how great is this collection!!! I should add that physical copy was sold with We Are All Ghosts badge and a download code to a bonus album of remixes from Jack Hertz, Kevin Lyons, Bing Satellites, Shane Morris and Ade Hodges.
Disc 1 starts with shorter "In One Corner Of The Sky", a wistful piano piece with glitchy subtleties thrown in. Brief, but soothingly embracing intro!!! "The End Of Winter" follows the expressively warm piano path, slightly enigmatic, sparse, yet hazed by glimpses of long time buried memories. The next, again shorter piece, "Of Passing Days", keep the piano magic on the lead, backed by distant drone gracefulness, until the string evocations insignificantly permeate through. "Into The Dark Part 1" is the first longer composition, clocking to 10:25 in length. Subterranean sceneries immediately arise, masterfully evoked by cavernously echoed eeriness. Someone might expect a bit of discomfortable mood, more especially if some apparition-like voices emerge surreptitiously, but the sound design is by far more minimal than massive and in spite of that immensely engulfing and extraordinarily rewarding listening experience awaits!!! "Endless Summer", another 10-minute composition, straightly metamorphoses, as displayed by its title, into splendidly expansive halcyon blue sky, ethereally guarding above warmly shining piano keys, while occasionally ascend field recordings of children's voices and urban noises along with some ear-tickling stringed poignancy. The listener is drifting away into utterly evocative paradise of euphonious serenity!!! "Future Tense" masterly mingles catchy insistent downtempos, cinematically undulating washes, joyous guitar riffs and scanty male voice samples. "A Place Of Magic" follows the footsteps of its predecessor with the addition of female chants riding atop. "Into The Dark Part 7" is another longer and darker chapter of venturing through forebodingly barren landscapes, where awaits some of the most breathtaking, yet hazardous arctic cave diving. Deeper and darker fearsome realms are fully unfolded!!! "The Far Distance" would be by far more risky within the previous track, but fortunately more relieving terrains are entered with gracefully traversing imaginative valley floor. This journey continues also through the 17-plus minutes long "Mini Dronescape", which closes the first disc with utterly spacious, orchestral-like elixir, majestically drifting and crescendoing through powerfully enchanting panoramic sceneries. Wow, a truly grandiose finale of the first disc, which focuses on previously digitally released pieces on We Are All Ghosts label, but all these tracks have been remastered. The only exclusive composition on this disc is the closing "Mini Dronescape". Thus the overall feel is abundantly diverse, less thematic, but always deeply evocative and fascinatingly immersing!!!
Disc 2, featuring only exclusive compositions, reveals with celestially waving "Artificial Lifeforms". Cybernetic-infused voice samples sneak in at the beginning along with piercing electric string outbursts and perforations, which are distinctively counterpointed with persistent choir-like washes. "Through The Moon's Opaque Light" continues voyaging through magnificently colossal realms, free-floating and quietly expanding into an uncharted, stunningly stellar emptiness. Surging celestial choir-like drones of "Down The Darkening Hills" are meticulously juxtaposed by shrilly guitar intensifications, continuously surfacing in serpentine timbres. The next piece, "A Convergence Of Leylines", is slightly calmer with more consonant strings, harmoniously surrounding the listener. 10-minute "Sinister Intent" keeps its robust structure, although, as indicated by its title, this time rather delving into hauntingly flavored enigmatic domains guarded by monochromatically mindscaping drone. Another longer track, slimmer "The Empty Mall" possesses its mysterious feel with sporadically emerging spoken words, while rawer guitar nuances keep on refined resurrecting. "Inside Chernobyl" immediately brings back very sad reminiscences with its background flatlined drone, which is bridged with extraordinarily touching strings and elusive layer of warmer flows. A monumentally evocative memento of this major nuclear disaster. "Time Flow" clocks over 15-minute mark and closes this exquisitely immersing listening delight with gorgeously graceful drifts guarded by intangible angelic choirs and peculiar string bravura. Enter now the gates of this magnificently infinite void!!! A truly grandiose conclusion of the second disc, which I find more focused and homogeneous than the first disc. The result is again strikingly transporting, undoubtedly a must-have listening exploration awaits here for each devotee of symphoniously eloquent ambient soundsculpting!!!
Yes, "The Sound Of Silas" is a really triumphant celebration of Cousin Silas' virtuosity, no less than 150 minutes of high quality ambience is delivered here, exceptionally fusing electronics with piano and electric guitars. Not to forget, the last credit goes to Tim Jones for mastering job. Bravo to Cousin Silas for his artistry, bravo to Thomas Mathie for bringing this jewel to us, bravo to all others mentioned above, you all have my deep respect for this prodigious sonic document!!! Obviously one of the pinnacles of 2014!!!
Richard Gürtler (Apr 10, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)