Daniel Thomas Freeman: The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself (Home Normal)
Daniel Freeman is one of the members of freefolk experimenters Ramses III, and this solo effort from him showcases his more ambient leanings. And when I say ambient, I mean REALLY ambient, at least toward the front of the album. The first couple of tracks are slowly evolving drones, subtly mixed and incredibly dark. “Dark House Walk” and “Staring Into Black Water” are apt titles for music that’s decidedly severe and muted. The latter in particular feels inspired to me, capturing the subtlety of low light trying to penetrate a vast body of shifting water. That slinky shapelessness is at the core of some of this music. The title track is the most lively, a bright sprinkling of plucked and manipulated tones, sandwiched in between several longer, darker tracks. When Freeman embraces his more musical side, the results are disarming; “The Devil Would Steal Your Joy” is a real beauty with hammer dulcimer and a detuned chorus of hazy chords, while “Elegy and Rapture (For Margaret)” is a cycle of strings and drones that resonates with a tinge of heartache. But the closing track, “Staring Into The Light,” sounds like redemption, a calm bit of optimism that lends the album a nice trajectory from start to finish. What I assumed was going to be an extremely dark and minimal project based on the starting pieces ended up being a really gorgeous journey from one place to a very other, understated and elegant.