Mark Harris: the angry child (n5MD)
Mark Harris’s second album, the angry child, began entirely from improvisations that led to the creation of its title track, and then, from there, permutations and reinterpretations of the same source material and sessions to evolve a new body of work that draws from the same vague sources of inspiration. Harris’s method for making music revolves around manipulating field recordings, recordings of live instruments, and synthesis; once he’s amassed a surplus of material, he then improvises by triggering and manipulating things in real-time using his own custom software. The release starts with the airy, extended prologue of “the tributary _ losing your way,” a sort of slow motion cyclone of reverberating synth pads — it rolls in like a heavy. benign fog, not sounding particularly sinister but no less disorienting. “in spite of everything_the night that made the darkness” is similarly cool and sedate, a bit chillier than the opener, and thinner, less opaque.
If ever there were a tribute to vintage Harold Budd and Brian Eno ambient records, surely “the angry child” qualifies — its patient piano and string pads lend it that classic quality that feels both familiar and time honored. With the exception of what could be considered its companion in closing track, “running forwards_to the object of ones affection,” which takes its time with most of the surrounding tracks, however, feel less obvious, more sublime. They don’t stray too far from that soft-focus sound of dreamy pads, though; even “everything i did was wrong” is a wash of pensive melancholy rather than an outburst. Any anger in this music is indeed quiet and restrained, sounding rather fragile rather than furious. It’s sweet and sensitive and sad, carrying with it some of the grace found in the music of Stars of the Lid or Winged Victory for the Sullen (particularly in “before you wake_ or the fool who mimics the sun”).