INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY
CD-R Auricle AMCDR 235 £7.00
2. Pentraeth 28 8'48"
3. Niall Of The Nine Hostages 3'59"
4. Intimations Of Immortality 11'02"
5. The Persistence Of Memory: parts 1-3 16'00"
6. Earth, Wind And Fire 8'48"
7. Etude 4'09"
by Kevin O'Neill.
Recorded between August 1985 and March 1986, largely at home on 4-track,
with the OSCar synthesizer, except "Etude" which is performed on
Tracks 4 and 5 (part 2) are 8-track recordings at Hollow Sun Studio, in
Cardiff. All tracks are mixed and mastered at Hollow Sun.
Originally issued in 1986 on self-released cassette, catalogue number K04.
Authentic reissue of the third solo by Welsh synthesist
Kevin O'Neill remastered
from the original private release cassette, out of print for some 25 odd
When I offered to review this cassette for Kevin, I had forgotten
something rather important about his music; namely, that it is quite unique.
That is not to say that it falls outside the sphere occupied by the likes of
Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and the UK and USA synth musicians. Rather, there
is no-one close enough to Kevin's territory to justify a comparison. As if to
make the task of a reviewer entirely impossible, his style defies
classification too. His music is improvised, which for Kevin means
"giving the emotions free rein. I try to keep my compositional process
as simple as possible so as not to let technology get in the way. I avoid
computers like the plaque... all drum machines sound the same. Whether it's a
Dr. Rhythm or a Linn-drum, I think this is the most cliché-ridden part of
modern music, especially E.M."
The title track is among the most
powerfully rhythmic I have heard from Kevin, yet in places it is also
supremely peaceful - and you can only achieve that with clever arrangement -
featuring sampled drums and an intriguing blend of sequenced and played
lines, married with gentle chord work. He gets around his technophobia by
doing some of his recording, and all of his mastering, at Hollow Sun studios,
where Steve Howell acts as an interface between Kevin's ideas and the
extensive hardware. And while the variation within one track is intriguing,
even more so is the variety over the whole album. The sequences tend to be
simple, but are all the more effective for it - the bass sequence on the
title track being a fine example. The sounds range from thoroughly aggressive
to beautifully delicate - I almost left my wife for a female vocal sound on
Persistence of Memory, until Kevin told me she was synthesized, not sampled.
Some pieces really pound along, while others seem to lack either direction or
purpose, consisting instead of atmospheres and emotions transformed into
sonic ambiences - the mysterious Pentraeth 28 being typical of this side of
Kevin's work. And still, each track has Kevin's stamp on it; but to explain
just what this quality is remains beyond me. "The best thing would be to
buy one and listen for yourself!"
from a review by Greg Truckell in Audion #1 from 1986
latest album INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY was released in May, 1986. It's even
better (if that's possible) than his previous releases and reveals a more
mature and polished style. The album was reviewed admirably by Greg Truckell
in Audion 1 so I'll just give a few brief personal notes on the tracks here.
Ylang-ylang is serene, but with a hint of underlying tension. Pentraeth 28 is
a broody and sometimes menacing cosmic piece. Niall of the Nine Hostages is a
bittersweet atmospheric and somewhat introspective work and the title track
is an arresting and dramatic tour-de-force. The Persistence of Memory is
quiet and emotive with a dreamlike quality. Earth, Wind and Fire is a dark,
brooding and chilling piece and Etude, which is a graceful and reflective
piece nicely rounds off an extremely fine album which I can't fault one
minute of. I thoroughly recommend it and am pleased to learn that it is
selling very well.
from a review by Peter Harrison in Audion #2 from 1986
in the day we stocked all Kevin's output via Audion Distribution until
cassette sales dwindled in the early 1990s. In and out of touch since, if it
weren't for connecting via Facebook these reissues would never have happened.
Kevin was reluctant as he feels these early works are not up to the standard
of his later stuff. Yet it's the original fresh approach (as described by
Greg) that sets this aside from his later releases, which far outweighs and
technical or musical proficiency IMHO (Alan Freeman).
Original issue: MC (K 04) - released 1986.
CD-R: 20 numbered copies - released 3/1/2017.
Bandcamp download - released 20/11/2018.
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