[microsound-announce] A Dancing beggar

David Newman dwnewman at clara.co.uk
Thu Feb 2 13:15:07 EST 2012


Greg Barbrick Review 

The Sheffield-based Audiobulb Records label was formed in 2003 by David
Newman as a home for "exploratory electronic music." The term is
intentionally vague, which was a rather smart move on his part. The variety
of music the label has released over the years is fairly broad. All of the
releases share one important element however - which is the stamp of
approval from Mr. Newman. That is no small thing when one listens to a few
of the albums he has released.

Follow The Dark As If It Were Light by A Dancing Beggar is a perfect
example. A Dancing Beggar is the nom de plume of the 23-year old James
Simmons, and was released last May. Being a small, independent label based
in the U.K., Audiobulb's recordings unfortunately do not get the type of
attention here in the United States that they so richly deserve. If I had
heard this album when it was released, it would have made my "Top 10 of
2011" list without question.

Follow The Dark As If It Were Light is actually the second full-length album
from A Dancing Beggar. His first was titled What We Left Behind. James
Simmons has actually made the task of describing his music fairly easy for
me, as he himself refers to it as "ambient." When done right, ambient music
is a form that I adore. Sadly, too many critics (and artists) have used that
term to a point of overkill. In the case of Follow The Dark As If It Were
Light though, we are presented with the very best of what ambient music has
to offer.

The album is a seven-song, 52-minute experience in bliss. On each track, Mr.
Simmons opens with a gentle (yet intriguing) melody, and slowly expands it.
Follow The Dark is almost purely instrumental, although during "Empty
Boats," "Forget This Place," and "Here Come The Wolves," we hear a blend of
choir-like voices which are mixed perfectly with the music at hand. The
intent is clearly to add the human voice as simply another element to the
overall instrumental palette.

The very nature of the form of a record review is (quite obviously) using
words to describe music. Yet with an album like this, words and phrases are
so inadequate that it is almost maddening. For this listener, it is the
combination of the various instruments, occasional voices, and overall
texture which makes ambient music so compelling. One of the keys to it all
though is to never allow one aspect to overshadow the rest.

The effect is one of almost imperceptibly changing textures. Not falling
into the (probably) overwhelming temptation to emphasize one instrumental
sound over another over the course of the piece seems to be one of the most
difficult obstacles for the musician to overcome.

Quite frankly, to pick a "favorite" out of the seven cuts on Follow The Dark
is a nearly ludicrous idea. But for the sake of illustration, I will single
out the 9:47 "Returning" for special mention. A Dancing Beggar uses all of
the tools at his disposal during the course of this track, and it is one I
would play for anyone who ever wondered what it "is" exactly that makes
ambient music so special to me.

The best ambient music is often described as taking the listener on a
journey. Without question, that is the effect Follow The Dark As If It Were
Light had upon me. For fans of this type of music, I have not heard anything
as remarkably true to the form since the demise of the Silent Records label.
I highly recommend going to the Audiobulb  <http://www.audiobulb.com/> site
to check out more of this music. It is certainly one of the best
record-label sites I have seen, with a tremendous amount of information
regarding not only A Dancing Beggar, but their other artists as well.

For now though, let me just say that Follow The Dark As If It Were Light
stands among the finest ambient albums I have heard.

David Newman

 <http://www.audiomoves.com/> http://www.audiomoves.com | Audiomoves >
Digital audio solutions 

 <blocked::http://www.audiobulb.com/> http://www.audiobulb.com | Audiobulb
Records > Exploratory music 

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