Wreaths – Like Sparks From Throats Falling
Wreaths is the moniker of Michael R Donaldson. He creates experimental music with a variety of instruments and techniques and has an idiosyncratic approach to capturing the ideas which reside in his head.
Like Sparks From Throats Falling opens with ‘Nautical Almanac’. The track begins with long drones and electronics. Slowly building, the effect is mesmerising, then suddenly everything falls away into the abyss, ending with hushed tones, a hint of what’s to come.
‘O! Like Falling Snow’ proffers a more melancholic mood, with plaintive guitar playing backed by mournful strings. The piece is sublime and the delicate guitar feels like it may falter and fall apart at any moment, the fragility lending emphasis to the beauty present.
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‘Through Winter On Foot’ finds the guitar holding centre stage again. This number feels a little more upbeat, the guitar being mixed with long tasteful minimalist drone, the two parts complementing each other beautifully. Once the guitar stops, the drone continues virtually unaccompanied for the rest of the song, slowly fading out into silence. This is minimalism at its best, sparse arrangements serving to highlight the beauty of Donaldson’s songwriting.
One of the standout tracks on this astounding album is ‘He Skulked Behind A Curtain’, with drones again providing undertones for the beginning of the track, this time sounding dark and ominous. Donaldson then introduces beautiful, fragile guitar, somewhat reminiscent of Bonnie Prince Billy. Except while the American troubadour complements his guitar with heartfelt singing, this Newcastle native uses subtle drones in the place of vocals and is none the poorer.
The album closes with ‘Cervine’, a beautiful piano based ballad, centred around a simple repeating progression that will move the listener with its pure, genuine and heartfelt emotion. There’s such depth here that one is compelled to return to each track multiple times, with each repeated sitting revealing another layer of sound meticulously woven.
Like Sparks From Throats Falling is a truly eclectic collection of sounds with a plethora of arrangements, instruments and ideas, all impeccably executed. This is a challenging, intelligent album that will demand your rapt attention and is all the more rewarding for it.