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THE SEPARATE ONES
eyes cast down
Kalindi Music KM001 - Feb. 22, 2013
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Given that the recording of The Separate Ones, the debut full-length release from Eyes Cast Down, took place
over seven years of part-time work, it' s no wonder that the finished product comes off as very intimate and personal.
Surprisingly, considering its spread-out pedigree, it also manages to feel like a sensible, continuous narrative.
Through six tracks, composer Greg Moorcroft moves his work from warm, straightforward guitar ambient to fever-dream
ruminations graced with Sanskrit chant. The journey runs, by turns, from calming to halluncinatory, but keeps the
listener engaged throughout. Starting as it does with the quiet ambient structures of "First Day Apart", it would be
easy to dismiss this within the first five minutes as simply that - quiet ambient. As much as I enjoy the rich guitar
tones here, it's when Moorcroft begins imbuing the work with more texture and drama that things get even more
interesting. "Rebuild from Memory" retains the sighing notes at first, with Moorcroft rippling their surface with
wavering treatments. It's a very classic sound, broad and calming. "Knife of Karma" glides in on rich waveform pads,
then adds a metallic clatter, creating moments of percussion that come and go. Mid-track it turns slightly toward a
dissonant feel, like shadows falling across the sound. Sharp guitar notes cleave through the mix. Echoing, chanting
vocals from singer Alannah drive "Expanse of Heart". There's a wonderful, gut-shaking bass chord that comes and goes
throughout the piece, a great counter to the skyward-reaching vocals. And then there is the centerpiece here, "Like A
Riven Cloud", a piece composed of improvised parts, used as a conduit for Moorcroft's feelings about a friend's suicide.
This is a bared-soul piece of work, extremely vulnerable, with the feel of an unsettled dream. Moorcroft's wife Dasi
recites part of a Sanksrit prayer for protection in the middle of a scattered wash of sounds, and the raw sadness in
her voice, at times sounding quite on the verge of tears, cuts straight into you. Violin from Ezra Azmon - whom Moorcroft
found busking on the street in Toronto - cries and calls from the distance and adds a fiery anger in spots. At 21 minutes,
this is a long time to spend washed over with someone else's potent emotions, and it's hard not to come away a little
changed from the experience. The disc ends with "Radha's Tears", pairing a solo processed guitar with vocals from Dasi.
The guitar sounds swirl and resonate, and I find it interesting that the vocals come off as the sharper element here, not
interruptive, but at times almost boldly challenging the instrument.
Eyes Cast Down is the ethereal music project by Greg Moorcroft. Using various guitars, synthesizers, computer
programs and acoustic sources, Moorcroft has produced The Separate Ones (73'34"), a fascinating album of six
sustained atmospheres. The Separate Ones provides the listener with intelligently directed soundscapes, within
which we are almost certain to become lost. Measure upon measure of slowly changing, undulating chords advance and
recede along a musical arc of vague dimensions. The slowly breathing tones summon interesting variations in mood and
space. Yet these dark sonic clouds cannot keep the sacred from shining through. There are areas of minimal sound,
which move on to a thick density of contrasting timbres and emanations in a striking drama of dynamic range. Other
pieces dwell in restful sonic colors, luxuriant in their repose. The two final pieces are dreamy - truly depicting the
often strange and surreal landscapes and images generated by the dreaming mind. Random voices speak softly amidst
reverberant guitar plucks and swells as distant ringing percussion and deep rumblings meet to transform this section into
abstraction. This sophisticated collection of Ambient realizations proves to be a delight of wit and wonder in its
minimalist phantasmagoria of sounds. The Separate Ones seems felt rather than reasoned out, proving seductive in
its use of musically dramatic forms - and achieves an uncanny haunting intensity equal to if not exceeding that of
Many of you will no doubt be familiar with Greg Moorcroft for his passionate support of the ambient scene in a variety of forums, in particular his work with the Relaxed Machinery
community. Over the years I've known him, Greg has proven to be an all around nice guy and a very talented musician as evidenced by his appearances on a number of compilations, so I'm
very pleased to hear that he's released his debut album "The Separate Ones" in his musical identity as Eyes Cast Down.
The sole musician behind Eyes Cast Down is US-based ambient/electronic composer, musician and writer
Greg Moorcroft. The Separate Ones (that demanded seven years of hard work to complete as life got
in the way on many occasions during the process of creation and sculpting) is a concept album featuring a
set of reflections on attachment, separation and loss. This automatically made me think of Paul Sauvanet's
Tristesse, along with an album by Boris Lelong (that I reviewed a while back), who also appears to
have provided the artwork for The Separate Ones.
This CD from 2013 offers 73 minutes of gentle ambient music.
Eyes Cast Down is Greg Moorcroft from Chicago and "The Separate Ones" is his debut work released on his own Kalindi Music label
at the end of February 2013. As mentioned on Greg's website, the album was recorded during the time span of 7 years. "First Day
Apart", a composition based on the longer separation with daughter, unfolds with sublime and sparse guitar dreamscapes, slowly
meandering like a feather in the breeze. Strong longing feel is explored throughout this hazy and introspective soundscape,
smoothly cascading from quieter contemplations to slightly more intense soars, yet still remaining enough consonant and allowing
each listener to dive deeply into Eyes Cast Down's own sonorous cavern. "Rebuild From Memory" keeps its reflective dimension, but
it's surrounded by diversely scattered dissonant vibrations. "Knife Of Karma", with 17 and half minutes the second longest
composition, is invaded by fragile tinkles and mysteriously flavored drones, enhanced by diverse eerie fragments, cavernous
rumbles and disruptive, nearly cacophonous embellishments. Here and there distant tribal groove fade in and out, and also
occasional fanfares do their highly distinguishing work within this uniquely fragranced soundsculpting. All in all, it's quite
disturbing, but also as much challenging, a real masterpiece!!! Celestial voice magics by guest singer Alannah lead "Expanse Of
Heart" along with rather minimal and slowly shifting, organ-like drones create a truly mesmerizing reverie taking the listener on
a soothing mind journey. The next composition, "Like A Riven Cloud", clocking over 21-minute mark, reveals with deeper organic
drones, enhanced by low rumbles and ghostly female whispers by another guest, Greg's wife Dasi. Composed as a dedication to a
friend that committed suicide, it paints a truly mysterious and grieving sceneries, especially when deeply evocative washes merge
with the reciting voice along with expanding mournful violin expressions by Ezra Azmon. Few piano subtleties tranquilly float
through too. Thoroughly gorgeous!!! "Radha's Tears" closes the album with coiling and resonating, hypnotic guitar drone, again
conjugated with Dasi's celestial chants. Overall, this is definitely not your ordinary accessible ambient recording, for sure
"The Separate Ones" album craves for numerous listening sessions with deeply dedicated attention and immersion, but then it offers
huge amount of fruitful and joyous moments filled with highly reflective, but enormously distinctive and intriguing palette of
sounds and atmospheres. "The Separate Ones" is your ticket to magnificently perfumed and anomalously mindscaping sonic realms, a
must have!!! Photographs by Boris Lelong and Kris Tilbury nicely accomplish this album, while the credit for mastering goes to
Bobby Jones. For a debut work like this, I won't hesitate to say, this is a virtuoso performance!!! And since Greg Moorcroft was
working during the last 7 years on several other albums, some of them are scheduled for this year's release, so make sure you
will keep an eye and ear on this highly capable and crafted ambient venturer!!!
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