Review: James Murray – Eyes To The Height

inre087-JAMES-MURRAY-Eyes-to-the-Height-artworkThe mystery of Eyes To The Height resides in what James Murray chooses not to illuminate. The record is pocked with shadow. Synthesisers slink across the frame but circumvent certain patches of space, the emptiness announcing itself as drum samples echo right through it. And yet Murray’s melodic dialect lends itself to those cinematic ascents that characterise the likes of filmscore and post-rock; his chord changes glimmer with the promise of expansion and euphoric eruption, yet each of these pieces suppress their hyperbolic potential in favour of something more subtle and uncertain. Instead of following a narrative that traverses the extremes of experience, this record is a quiet, contemplative gaze into the void of the unfulfilled; an introverted churn of hopes and anxieties, fantasising the possible from a state of stillness, projecting the future in hazy, spectral wisps upon the canvas of the night sky.

It’s a rhythmic record, but not a rhythmically driven one. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these electronic beats – heartbeats pressing against membranes of drone, synthetic clacks that flash through the darkness – are like the resting pulse of a sleeping body, maintaining dormancy while the mind evacuates to explore the fluctuating terrain of dream states. The upper frequencies are awash with ambiences that disperse and then promptly recede (like the blurred chords of the two “Particles” pieces, or the cyclical synth chimes on the title track), stretching as far as fantasy will take them before being throttled by counteractive waves of doubt. I spend the entire hour of Eyes To The Height clutching at spectres of the possible, floating toward a future that might never come to be.