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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Unquiet Earth Andew Keeling

Andrew Keeling
Unquiet Earth
Spaceward Records

Over the last decade or so, Andrew Keeling has covered a lot of ground. Aside from his love of fell-walking, as a composer he’s been striding purposefully across varied territories. There’s been the contemporary chamber settings on Quickening The Dead, improvised music on English Sun (joined by ex-King Crimson violinist David Cross) and more recently, a reversion to his pre-classical roots as a folky on First Things and Soror. The rock-orientated Bells Of Heaven in which Keeling goes electric also provides further testimony to his eclecticism.

Despite such radically different facets a constant seam veined throughout his work has been an unerring facility with melody. Returning to contemporary chamber music, his writing on Unquiet Earth, energetically bustles with bright timbres and strident rhythms on Present for string quartet and the title track, scored for piano trio.

Keeling's careful balance between harmonic impact and understated drama is masterful and Beacon Hill is the album’s outstanding piece. Sombre gently chiming percussion, electric guitar and dark, rumbles of cello and piano slowly part, allowing a keening violin to emerge like a silvery light between pensive clouds. Joined by saxophone, a similarly mournful line is gently etched, yet as the piece comes to rest a pale but hopeful light prevails.

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