Those of you who have read posts on S4E more than once or twice may have detected a pattern, or rather a penchant I have for the connection between nature and sound, or a particular yen for the sound of weather in music. No surprises, then, what caught my attention about Neil Milton‘s latest release, titled Elements.
Before I get into that, though…
If the name sounds familiar, it’s possible you know it from a variety of musical projects, including post-rock band Troika, ambient project beneath us, the waves and/or Scottish indie music label too many fireworks, which has releases by artists Flying Matchstick Men, Laeto and Titus Gein to its credit. Now four years since its last release, too many fireworks is back, offering expanded versions of favourites as well as a number of new artists and releases to pique your ears and interest. Pay a visit to the label here and do a little exploring – well worth the time.
Elements, one of the first new releases from the label, is a 5-track EP composed by Neil and, as the name might suggest, explores aspects of five elements. As I’ve mentioned before, many albums have seasons and elements ascribed to them in order to convey their general tone and mood – few actually embrace and explore them in the way that Elements does.
The EP begins with air (Or The Dragonfly), a piano-based piece that matches its namesake well; light, subtly fluttering and calming, much like I remember the walk to school used to be on cool spring mornings – I used to pass through an alleyway with high galvanised iron fences on each side, dandelions grew rampant and large numbers of dragonflies swayed and darted about. (Ok, so I was a little wary of them in my youth, but both time and music can make these memories fondly comforting).
earth (Or (Warszawa) is next, another piano based piece and surprisingly more minimalist that the first. Sparse and measured to an almost painful degree, yet each note is decisive and clear – it makes me recall autumn just before winter sets in, capturing the moment between rain forming and falling.
Instrumentaion is expanded for fire (Or The Waysider), where strings are introduced for a gorgeous waltz that feels ripe with memories – it hints at, but never quite falls into melancholy. water (Or Between Rocks and the Sea) is a genuine highlight – absolutely beutiful and captured my imagination immediately. In short, I felt like I was on a train journey from the seaside to the mountains, the landscape familiar and holding those memories from the waltz, with the rain that was gathering during earth softly falling against the glass as I passed them by (of course, myriad different stories and reasons why to fill the suitcase I travelled with).
The EP finishes with aether (Or Alasdair Gray) – who is a Scottish writer and artist, google tells me. I know only what the wiki tells me about Alasdair Gray, but I do know a touch about the fifth element. Wheras air, earth, fire and water are terrestrial elements, subject to change and temperament, aether is the element above our sphere, and supposedly incapable of change. Quite fitting, then, that the very first thought I had when listening to Elements, is that while separated into individual pieces, as a whole the work doesn’t simply match the seasons, but instead suspends and enfolds them.
By which I mean that though I have obviously ascribed my own attributes to each piece, they are free of them at the same time, and while it may be so that Elements could be called ‘glacial’ in its movement at times, it is neither inherently cold or warm, rather, it simply is, and I get the impression it’s more than capable of adapting to any season, for each element is ever present, just at times in varying degrees.
Elements can be purchased via iTunes and Bandcamp.