Leyland Kirby Leyland KirbyEager To Tear Apart The Stars
In little under two years, Leyland Kirby has been able to record the most radically beautiful music in his entire career and consolidate his sound with a brilliance and inspiration that is starting to be worrying. Worrying in the best sense of the word, of course: in October 2009, many of us thought that “Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was” was going to be the creative peak for the Berlin-based British artist; today, after listening thoroughly to “Eager To Tear Apart The Stars”, it's clear that he didn't only maintain that level of excellence, he's even better now. The importance and relevance of his music is no longer measured only by the clear and profound emotion of everything he records, even as The Caretaker, but also by how he achieves it. If the past twelve months of output as Leyland Kirby show anything (let's not forget the great EP series “Intrigue & Stuff”, with two parts out and one upcoming), it's that we're dealing with a man possessing ambition, concern and confidence; capable of permuting and readapting his sound as the days and releases go by. His songs grow, evolve, mature and take risks. They look for new hooks - and with them the genre and the scene grow too, full as it is of lazy artists who employ one invariable formula.
One of the most defying and admirable aspects of “Eager To Tear Apart The Stars” is the duality, almost bipolarity, of its songs. In all of them, there is an idea of expressive and emotional contrast, which eradicates any kind of monotony or uniformity; two very common attributes in ambient. Kirby combines dark sonic resources - tense, openly uncomfortable - with others of immaculate beauty and serenity. He does it in a natural way - harmonic, absolutely justified. “The Arrow Of Time”, the starting point, alludes to that uneasy and restless aspect of his sound, with a thumping piano note and a set of flowing drones that, right from the start, leave a strange feeling. Curiously enough, this start, with the same idea of tension and fear as “Intrigue & Stuff”, features some characteristics that instantly change register and tone. “This Is The Story Of Paradise Lost” - ten minutes of lonely, relaxed and comfortable diving in the ocean of pastoral ambient we know from his recent releases - brings back the landscaping Kirby, digging in the dark corners of memory to look for the exact and precise keys of emotion.
But as calm and paused as “This Is The Story Of Paradise Lost” is, the album features some worrying sounds. “To Reject The World” works the other way around: a disturbing drone calms down with some perfectly integrated piano notes. And something very similar can be perceived on “They Are All Dead, There Are No Skip At All”, a very The Caretaker-like piece, on which sounds from another era taken from an old and scratched vinyl have an inoffensive and playful xylophone as the spine, shaping an apocalyptic carol, a lullaby for the end of the world. Just when you think you've seen and heard it all, comes the final blow. “My Dream Contained A Star”, the closing piece of this unforgettable symphony, is built around a light piano variation and some synth-treated string arrangements and leaves ten minutes of emotion James Newton Howard or Howard Shore would give an arm or leg for. It could be the soundtrack to genocide, of a massive exodus, an epic battle or the extinction of an entire continent - but also of the death of a loved one or a traumatic break-up. That is Leyland Kriby's magic, inimitable, unique, major: these days, nobody has that much evocative musical power.
Because no matter how much the artist investigates and adds details and new arguments to his sound, one thing does not change: its incalculable sentimental value. Each and every detail on the album leads to a state of incredible melancholy; to an emotional indigence no other artist of today is capable of bringing us to. The titles of the tracks (“ The Arrow Of Time”, “ This Is The Story Of Paradise Lost”, “No Longer Distance Than Death”), the album sleeve - very similar to the one of “An Empty Bliss Beyond This World”, his most recent recording as The Caretaker - the variety of expressive resources and, most of all, the particular and indescribable emotion flowing in his compositions combine superbly. It’s almost unreal. Here “Eager To Tear Apart The Stars” achieves its highest level of impact; to give a unique and completely recognisable personality to the musician who best knows how to give nostalgia a face.
“The Arrow Of Time”