Review: Ian William Craig - Cradle For The Wanting

Ian William Craig - Cradle For The WantingWhen the only instrument present is the voice, there is no stable point of reference. When it falters and dips – due to inconsistencies in exhalation puff, or the quivering strain of a held “ooh” – it collapses upon the cushion of the lungs or sinks down into the diaphragm. The layers of vocal noise of constantly drift and bob like bedded flora riding the river current, fainting into the persistent imbalance. I don’t just hear the voice of Ian William Craig. I feel the soft skin of the mouth and watch the cheeks gracefully indent as the jaw swings open; I see the hands gesticulate gently and sense the chest rising and falling. Even during tracks like “Each All In Another All”, whose ghostly background layers could well be synthesisers on first glance, harbour a fluttering warmth that alludes, delicately, to their origin within the human body. There are no hard surfaces.

Many of the foreground voices are glazed in a beautiful distortion, as though crushed by the fidelity of the Tannoy system. Others sound like they were recorded to tape and then neglected for decades, salvaged as loops of spluttering sound that resemble a candle going out. I perceive the body of Ian William Craig, but it’s not whole – rather, it’s a soup of wordless phonemes, dream-like droplets of lyric, indulgent gasp and withered drone, swirling around me like the contents of a bath when the plug is pulled out. I’m hit with a sense of longing and emotional hurt, yet it’s only a sense. Nothing is explicitly articulated. Instead, I absorb the melancholy of these pieces through my pores, entirely soaked in the waters of choral folk and rumbling cassette tape plosives.