The title is possibly a nod to Steve Reich’s Piano Phase but the piano patterns here are very different. The piece opens with a gently rocking, slightly syncopated phrase which is soon divided and echoed across the speakers.
The effect is a soothing hypnotic backdrop over which sustained ‘string’ sounds slowly develop. I say string sounds – according to the blurb, it’s actually a very convincing mellotron.
The texture builds ever so slowly – a few long sustained bass notes, some shimmering strings. Every so often the bass interjects with notes that suggest movement to new harmonies but this doesn’t happen; the music moves swiftly back to G minor. I’m reminded of some of the tracks from David Bowie’s Low album – poise, restraint, balance and a latent vitality. A vitality building in intensity, whooshing electronic sounds helping to pile on the pressure, before fading away … You feel the piece may be ending – but no. Instead Leah unleashes the drums and bass and we find ourselves in more familiar territory. I’ve been listening to music long enough to be familiar with this device, but it gets me every time! We still hear the phasing pianos and sighing strings, but now the bass gives a sense of moving harmony. Because we’ve been kept waiting, the effect is even more exhilarating.
It takes skill to write music like this, which walks a sonic tightrope between easy listening and something altogether more edgy. This is music with real depth. Magical and haunting, a work I will return to again and again.
For those who want a tour behind the scenes.
Read about how Leah takes David Bowie’s advice about taking risk and leaving the comfort zones behind. Leah relinquishes the control of working with virtual instruments in a computer environment, rolls her sleeves up and gets stuck in with plugging in some good old fashioned analogue equipment. But the trade off was worth it. She finds fresh ways to make music – and tells us she learns some more things about herself in the process. More by clicking the link below.