Eric Thielemans: Sprang (CD, Miasmah, April 2014)

Eric Thielemans has made a record using, it seems, almost entirely classical percussion instruments — but not in the way that you might expect. It’s light on the drums, preferring the softer sounds of xylophones, woodblocks, chimes, and I believe (though I wouldn’t swear to it) scraping noises made on the inside of a piano. There’s a pleasing balance and interplay between the melodic and rhythmic elements. There’s little obvious formal structure, and the playing has a light, improvised feel which often teeters just the right side of chaos. The recording and mixing has all been done very carefully, separating the crisp clip-clop of a nearby woodblock from the muffled chiming of a distant marimba. One striking moment the whistled melody on Garden, which sounds very human and vulnerable amidst the clattering and the scraping and the banging. But perhaps the most pleasing surprise for me is how, while being complex and layered and contemplative all that, this record is also wonderfully playful. It’s 11 tracks last just 42 minutes, and it zips along, and each time it finishes I’m left wanting more.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Modern Classical / Ambient. (When did they lose ‘Home Listening’ from that designation?)

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