“My dog has severe anxiety and can become slightly aggressive. When I know he’s feeling anxious, I turn on this album for him and it instantly calms him.” J.N., Chicago.
The maxim that a musician’s first album has taken up his whole lifetime to that point certainly holds true with this release. Taking nearly seven years to compose and record, this debut from eyes cast down is a deeply personal set of reflections on attachment, separation and loss.
By turns soothing, exhilarating, sobering and uplifting, The Separate Ones is ideal for deep or background listening, meditation or contemplation – a soul-nourishing break from routine.
Quite honestly, I struggled to find words for this review. I have probably listened to this disc more than 20 times in the past couple of weeks, and it has lost none of its potency for the repetition. While all music is personal at its core, The Separate Ones stands out for the extreme intimacy it conveys and the remarkable depth of effect it carries. It is profoundly intense in its honesty. I highly recommend reading Moorcroft’s extensive background notes on his pieces. The very good news is that while this disc was seven years in the making, Moorcroft says cracking this ice has opened the flow, and there will be several more Eyes Cast Down releases in 2013. This is quite a good thing for ambient music fans.
Over the course of its six tracks, “The Separate Ones” presents a beautiful and natural listening space to explore. Rich in organic tones and enveloping washes, Greg has created a really inviting soundscape that connects immediately, drawing the listener in and surrounding them with it’s beauty. From the subtle and quiet opening of “First Day Apart” with its long drifting pads that stretch and elongate as time passes, through the ebb and flow of “Rebuild from Memory” blending in subtle shifts to the dreaming flow that’s been established, Greg meticulously crafts an engaging sonic environment for listeners to immerse themselves in. “Knife of Karma” continues in a similar vein, adding a mildly percussive element to the proceedings, firmly entrenching the listener in the sonic world that he’s created. I probably shouldn’t have to tell you at this point that I’m hooked, solidly absorbed in Greg’s work.
As noted above, I think that Greg Moorcroft is a really talented guy, and with the release of “The Separate Ones” I’m confident that a lot more people will start thinking the same thing. A really strong debut that I whole-heartedly encourage you to pick up for yourself.
Work started with lots of trial and error of ambient improvisation and composition for which Greg stuck to synths only for about two years. Next, he decided to try his hand at composing for electric guitar. This turned out more effectively and satisfying, eventually leading to four guitar-driven works on a total of six compositions.
The 73-minute The Separate Ones features airy, drifting and lush textural worlds along gentle loops that now and then bring the older releases of Jeff Pearce to mind. Moreover, it’s an entrance into a slowly curling and flowing world of contemplation and inner thoughts despite a constant undercurrent of movement.
This moody sphere continues on the elevating Expanse of Heart, on which a heavenly female voice joins the gentle soundscapes. The 21-minute Like a Riven Cloud is the longest take on the album, entering a spacious dream sphere with soft mourning and wavering violin. But as the track progresses, a surreal/psychedelic world opens up as well, something that’ s also found in the final piece Radha’s Tears.
All in all, The Separate Ones is a peculiar but also fascinating ambient album needing a couple of spins before one can judge its real sonic impact.
Eyes Cast Down is Greg Moorcroft, who plays electric and fretless electric guitars, Ebow, synths, samples and loops, singing bowls, shakers, Tibetan chimes and tiny bells. He is joined on certain pieces by: Alannah and Dasi on voice, and Ezra Azmon on violin.
Delicate ambience is achieved with vaporous electronics seasoned by other soft instruments.
Textural waves establish an atmospheric milieu, which is then tempered by additional electronics of a tender nature. These ringing tones remain remote and elegant, seasoning the music with an ephemeral quality that is cloudlike in its definition.
These compositions waft with pleasant definition, generating resonance of an ambient character that caresses the listener’s psyche with loving tenderness. The melodies are tenuous: slightly more than harmonic, but rarely overt enough to stray beyond minimal determination. The result is a dosage of tunes of pacific disposition, gentle flows of delicate beauty that reside at the edge of consciousness. Deep contemplation is easily promoted by this music.