Marvin Ayres

[Burning Shed,]

Eccentric Deliquescence
[Mandalic Records,]

British composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Marvin Ayres is not someone who likes to rave and shout about his work. In fact, unless you're seriously enquiring about his music, it's rather difficult to locate it [best place is his web-site:]. As with best things in life, when you actually find it, be prepared to be enraptured by a world that is full of awe and wonder. Expect a world where acoustic instruments live side by side with electronic counterparts. Be prepared for a land where images move in a languid state, never quite starting up, but rather pacing at snail's speed. All of this is coming from the founding member of The Government, from a collaborator of bands such as Simply Red, Culture Club and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Which proves a point - life takes on many strange turns.

Recorded over a span of four months in 2000, Marvin Ayres says about his album "Neptune was conceived as a voyage of images. The compositions were primarily for electric strings. These are distinctive instruments from their acoustic counterparts, and do not sit happily as merely electric replacements." Originally released on the defunct Mille Plateaux imprint, the pieces flow across the stratosphere in a smooth manner. Ayres plays electric cellos, violin and viola. All of these are processed in such a way as to make the whole sound vivid, yet relaxing. Problem as I see it is majority of the pieces on the record are rather brief. Some of the themes that Ayres takes on don't sound as if they're developed to their maximum potential. Such is not the case on the nearly 18 minute long "Drift". The sounds of overdubbed strings are tenderized and wavy. "Neptune" is essential, lulling listening, especially for those that missed the original Mille Plateaux pressing in the first place.

A year earlier, in 1999, marked the release of "Cellosphere", yet another album that was issued by Mille Plateaux [actually its classical division Ritornell] that was long forgotten. Here, Ayres concentrates on cello and violin but there's more. In addition to the wilting lines thrown about, distortion, feedback, surges and mixing was done by both Ayres and Paul Joseph. The totality of this music is all encompassing. Running along the lines of Brian Eno's "Airport Music", Ayres develops his style in concentrating on minute details. The waver of the violin and the swooping cello sounds are processed oftentimes beyond recognition. Listener gets the sense that what is presented are bellows of soft wind. Three out of the four tracks run the gamut between 10 to 23 minutes, therefore allowing the progression to be fully engulfed. Otherworldly music sent from an unknown galaxy. Soothing, peaceful and full of narrative, "Cellosphere" is best enjoyed on a good pair of headphones.

Fast-forward to 2006 and 2007, during which timeframe "Eccentric Deliquescence" was formed into shape. Added to usual repertoire of cellos, violins and violas, Ayres also plays the piano and even shares his vocal chords. At this point, Ayres' sounds tend to be more distinct. There is less emphasis put on the miniscule sound. Overall atmospherics tend to take the upper hand. While on "Elegiac Collage", Ayres is plucking the strings of the cello, a broken-up piano shift is heard and the whole has an overwhelming triad of distortion running through it. This time around, the pieces are once again of shorter length, which actually helps in setting apart variety of musical notions Ayres takes on. His vocals are sparse and mixed into the general swoop of the wavy strings. Narrative threads are explored in great details while the music has an overbearing sombre visage. Beautifully played and crafted with utmost attention to most serene atmospheric levels.

- Tom Sekowski

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>> Marvin Ayres - Neptune - Cellosphere - Eccentric Deliquescence
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