Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for Disquiet

Disquiet starts innocently enough; an inky, tinted piano plays a subdued passage like a little child unaware of a dangerous, volatile world. The piano lines dance innocently, in a beautiful park that not many know about, where the only feeling we have ever known is one of peace; a sanctuary for the innocence of youth and the security of cherished times. Like innocence however, the music is slowly washed away by rain-carrying clouds, pregnant with drone, despair and dejection, obscuring the warm light like a daytime lunar eclipse. In this playground illusion, memories of long ago surface in the wind; these do not turn black. The potent smell of Autumn leaves burning on passing clouds of thick smoke, or the ivy growing wildly on the side of that abandoned house, where the only physical inhabitant is a beautiful piano. Remember.

Appearances can be deceiving; on the outside, the house looks uninviting. Come closer, and it will reveal its secrets – through the melodies that ascend and descend like the inquisitive intruder on the staircase, or the endless hallways as narrow as the thin lines on her stave. That day, we knew of Disquiet for the first time, and it came to be a warning burnt into both the retina and the third eye of the mind. There are dangerous drones on the horizon, hidden by the thick roots of the trees and the wet soil that masks the sound of movement. This entering drone acts as a warning – never talk to strange drones that lurk in the shadows. Chords play against a tremolo picked, rattling window, like a thin branch scratching its fingernails softly against the glass. ‘She is in the Ground’, but her continued presence – a faint aroma of perfume an octave lower, a floor lower, may be the source of the disquiet.

‘Narrow’ raises the pulse with a faint thumper of a beat, sending rhythmic shockwaves throughout the opening minute and ensuring a sense of forward progression. Not only that, but there’s a mysterious anticipation as to where we’re being led. Just exactly where we’re headed is revealed down the next street. The rain continues to lash down, and through the reflection of the puddles a decrepit house at the end of the street can be seen; it’s that house, haunted by arms of ivy and the spectral arms of a past life, reaching into the present. A swirl of rustling leaves creates a mini tornado at the front of the house during the opening minute, as the airy electronic can be heard swooshing up a crescendo.

On entering, claustrophobic twists and turns wait around every corner, in the form of Corley’s improvised lines, dotted around the main segments. Corley’s sections of piano improvisation are untraceable in this creaking maze. The piano treads lightly across the floor, 1 step, 2 step, 3 step, 4. Static scurries beneath our feet, prompting a timid walk down the old, creaking flight of stairs to investigate. Everything about this place adds to a sense of strayed wandering. It’s almost as if the arches separating the empty rooms are turned at slight angles, or maybe it’s due to the angle of approach. One is never sure. The pulsing heartbeat pounds against the ribs like a confessional tell-tale heart, spilling our disquiet out into the world for an unsettling energy to absorb. As DJ Shadow once said, ‘You can’t go home again’.

Corley adds a touch of thin electronic manipulation to his beautifully sparse melodies, and a drone that never casts a full shadow over the nocturnal piano. The moon casts only a frail light upon her. ‘Dialogue and Passing Judgement’ echoes a similar, throbbing beat that is only just heard over the deep timbre of piano. Even here, there is never a feeling of resolution, and this only increases over the 11 minute duration. Nearer the end, the ominous drone we glimpsed in the park returns, obscuring the light of the doorway, and of the piano. Still the mysterious beat walks over the ground like plodding feet caked in an unhealthy, subterranean soil, until they, too, vanish. There’s an abandoned rocking horse, grinning in once- thriving decadence, and now encased with insanity. It almost pleads with its false smile: please move in. We could be neighhhbours.

Come play with me…

No-one plays with it anymore, just like the old Victorian music box that sits on the old wooden table – it’s seen better days – but it’s still capable of twinkling rusty melodies. Fingerprints of dust, from people who don’t live here anymore, surround the space; only the piano is free from ageing in this long departed place.

Disquiet seems to entertain thoughts of a foreboding nature, but the music is only a suggestion of vague disquiet; a slightly out-of-sync world where it’s difficult to put your finger on what is wrong; it falls under music that is acutely sensed, more than any actual physical apparition. The atmospherics almost drift into deep-set melancholia, but the presence of the darker drone and the experimental scrapes and groans rise it up from graveyard tears to the promise of fear. Disquiet shudders along, creating a creeping tension in the body’s musculature, and a heart-rate that rises steadily and imperceptibly.

Disquiet ends on a slightly brighter shade, like the palest of light glowing dimly through a stained-glass window and illuminating a dusty cross. There’s no escaping – or denying – the creepy, yet beautifully lush intervals, chiming out as if from a bell; screeching along the strings, cries echo somewhere in the distance. That ‘somewhere’ is the key to Disquiet; we’re never sure where it leads, where it comes from or where it is currently cloaked; perhaps it is in the ground after all, along with a female body. Contemplative flourishes don’t stay for long – possibly because this residence creaks and squalls like it has unfinished business – and they’re interspersed with light electronics; the attention to detail and the rich, atmospheric textures help to smoothen out the contrasting squeaks and shivers, until the music enjoys a near-perfect state of equilibrium that is very difficult to conjure.

Disquiet is American composer Paul Corley’s debut release, and it’s a beautifully dark masquerade. This house isn’t what it appears, and the long duration of each piece may lead you astray. Stay for a while longer in this place, and it might shut the door in secret. Don’t leave. Disquiet’s atmosphere may fit the abandoned night, dampened with melancholia like the falling rain drowning the flowers in the park, but it’s a delectable communion.

James Catchpole

Fluid Radio (November 19th 2012)

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Released on 5 November 2012
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