02.10.2012, Words by Charlie Jones

Premiere: Leo Abrahams + Oliver Coates - 'Crystals are Always Forming' [album stream]

Outstanding piece of sound-design from The Southbank's cellist in residence playing exclusively here.

A couple of months ago, a handmade CD was posted to Dummy, with a press release and a note written in fountain pen on very nice paper asking us to play the album. Dutifully, we did, and we’re glad – it’s one of most outstanding pieces of ambient sound-design or modern classical or whatever we’re calling this movement of smart, beautiful music released this year. Played by Oliver Coates, the Southbank Centre’s artist in residence, lead cellist with the LSO and Mica Levi collaborator and arranged by Leo Abrahams, a pretty serious guitarist who has written music for Steve Mcqueen’s ‘Hunger’, collaborated with Brian Eno and released seven solo albums. We’re playing it exclusively below, underneath quotes fromt he two artists involved, and it’s one of the best albums released this year, honestly.

“There was a process governing this record. A tiny sound, frozen, becomes prismatic – this metaphor was useful: the properties of a single complex sound (as if crystalline) extrapolate in every direction. Once this was established as our basic unit, we generated a set of “absent narratives”. The space and stasis are themselves framed, so that meaning might be activated by the listener.”
Oliver Coates

“Despite being a guitarist, I took a non-performing role – directing Oliver Coates in initial improvisations, and developing and arranging the material that resulted. All the raw material was recorded in a day, and then worked on gradually and sporadically over the following year. This time ratio informs the structure of the pieces themselves, reflecting compositional preoccupations with economy and austerity. Much of the manipulation and automation was done live, so there is a gestural, human quality to many of the treatments. Only the loosest forms are employed and the ear is the ultimate arbiter of structure. They are meditative but tense – static but restless.”
Leo Abrahams

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