Review: Amy Reid – Isolated Bliss


Composed when Amy Reid was living on the island of Monhegan off the coast of Maine, the 19 minutes of Isolated Bliss are a bittersweet ode to the futility of escape. With time, the spotless simplicity of an elsewhere – the bright sun, the glittering water – start to accrue the complexities of yet another here. Idyllic locations lose their novelty as the days churn by, eventually becoming the next refuge for familiar sensations of introspective restlessness. Stay still for long enough and home will always settle back into the bones.

And so “Water Talks” starts with the slosh of waves and chattering birdsong, with synthesisers rippling like mirages against the hum of the horizon line before carrying the good vibes straight into the delicious lounge jazz pencil sketch of “Luminescence”, whose rebounding rhodes chords frame a sequence of melodies that each seek to emulate a different facet of sunlight: the shimmer, the glimmer, the sparkle. These first two pieces are as unequivocally serene as postcards from paradisaical places, stripped back to simple, hand-played elements that let blue sky wrap generously around their outlines.

It’s on “Acid Island” that the uncertainty creeps in, with arpeggiations sliding out of time with eachother and a bass drum thumping impatiently from beneath. The bright colours start to fade as field recordings from the night (throbbing cicadas) replace the picturesque beach scenes of the day. Echoes distort the edges of the instruments; voices are warped out of tune. By the time we reach the aptly-titled “Everything Caves”, only the meekest glints of light appear on the surface of an otherwise solemn smear of choral pads and meandering electronic brass, like a netherworldly reflection of the opening track. Both pieces generate the image of staring out to sea, yet where the opener feels like a blissful appreciation of solitude, the closer seems like a melancholic yearning for home.

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