Stuart Sweeney – 16:9 (CD)
The sound 16:9 creates is one of minimalism melded with spiritualism. It’s the soundtrack to some fantastic film. Pianos fall gently into background space, as strings, synths and a host of other, often unexpected musical tools combine to create a tragic, heroic and captivating movie in the mind. A road trip on a mass scale, the sombre closing credits of Cherry Blossom Falls offer up Vienna in violin arrangements, while Kaiyu-Shiki transports you to the eponymous Japanese garden, via a thousand crystalised chimes.
Darker moments abound in Memories Lost, as decomposing tape creates a feeling of faded photography and silent, battle-scorched earth. Meanwhile, The Fire Within recounts a town springing into life on a dark winter’s morning, as ambient noise becomes hook and then melody. It might seem lazy to reel off disconnected, imagined instances. But then few films have been this vivid in the landscapes and atmospheres they create.
Lovingly presented with original imagery courtesy of fine art photographer Andrew Ilachinski, it’s a beautiful package that transcends time. Available in digital format, and on CD, 16:9 is an album in tune with classical forefathers as much as 21st Century innovators. By marrying the imprints left on music by a symphony of eras, the album creates a true journey through a soundscape punctuated by the four corners of the world.
This overwhelmingly natural expressive character is inherent in all 12 tracks here. No coincidence, it was achieved thanks to Sweeney’s focus on drawing the emotion out of every instrument used, some of which he hand-welded himself.
Recorded without the use of compression, Denis Blackham, who has worked with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Kraftwerk, handled the final mastering. And the result is a finished product that’s nothing short of breathtaking.