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Peter Broderick: Music For Confluence (Erased Tapes)

Peter Broderick continues to explore as a composer and instrumentalist on this collection of mostly stark instrumental, acoustic pieces. The lines between cinematic soundtrack, neoromanticism, free folk and ambient music blur together into a fuzzy gradation that’s ultimately melancholy albeit reflective. It’s perhaps telling that the music was composed as a score for a documentary about a series of murders and missing persons in Idaho in the 80s, at times harrowing but at others hopeful or pensive. Opening piece “In the Valley Itself” kicks things off with a dash of optimism, helped along by the human voice as an added element (conspicuously absent for most of the album), but the tracks that follow feel more ponderous, more stark. Since many of them are quite brief, they sometimes feel like sketches or gestures rather than fully formed, polished compositions, but this adds to the appeal in my opinion. This piecing together of more miniature compositions reminds me a bit of Max Richter’s 24 Postcards, though less gimmicky in intent. This is also not to imply that everything on Music For Confluence is skeletal or loose — at times it’s truly chilling, like the reverberated wonder of “It Wasn’t a Deer Skull” or the more looming “The Person of Interest.” Like most good scores, the music works well on its own without visuals, telling its own story. “Old Time” is a proper song that closes it out, sounding closest to Broderick’s more song-based album Home. It makes sense as a closer even if I prefer the starker, more cinematic moments elsewhere. It’s another solid entry in Broderick’s repertoire, continuing on his trajectory as an accomplished composer and performer.

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