Monday, May 17, 2021

Closer to Home By Sensitive Chaos


Closer to Home


Sensitive Chaos

Written by

Steve Sheppard


I remember way back in 2011 Jim Combs contacting me with regard to the release of Seeker After Patterns, I felt back then he had something unique to give to the world of electronic music, and throughout the years that have passed since then, and with the release of this his vast new work entitled Closer To Home, it seems I was right.

Unique has been joined now by greatness, as this new release stands tall and proud and contains a fine array of added musicians to help the cause, take the opener for example, a fine mix of electronica meets Jazz and you have Fauna Funk Fusion. The brass section is impressive, Combs doubly so, and proves the symbiotic collaboration of a multi-instrumental nature works perfectly to gift us our first very classy offering.

The more traditional stamping ground of electronic mastery for Jim Combs can be found on the track Snow Laughing Matter, this was one of many personal favourites from the album, and includes the beautiful voice of Diane Arkenstone, and incorporating the single most inspired performance on keyboards by Combs, couple this with both Brian Good and Brian Donohoe with a fine brass construction, and you have a sublime winner of a piece.

We now go short form with the piece Fort Hamilton Parkway - Prospect Park, the footsteps create a sense of mystery and the wind rushes around us now, if there is one thing I appreciate it is the skill of capturing really good field recordings, it is something I adore in my musical compositions as well. Here the Crow plays with the wind, and the streams leads us onward forever, whilst above a plane flies into infinity, utter ambience and quite magical.

Backyard Limbo is our next port of call, the guitar of Tom Carleno features here and adds a nice texture to the piece, one that dances perfectly with the keyboards and drum machines of Combs. If you ever wanted an example of how to build and progress an arrangement, then this one is a perfect example of just how to do that.

On Cosmic Tune-up you have just that a field recording of an orchestra tuning up, but that does lead us perfectly into Cosmic Orchestra, one of the most ambient pieces off the album, and another favourite of mine. Utilising the talents of Josie Quick on Violin, Brian Donohoe on Tenor Sax and one heck of a crafted and sensitive performance on percussion by Mitchell Sosebee, you have a combination of greatness that manifests a smooth and really chilled composition.

One of the longest tracks on the album at just over the 15 minutes is Fast Driving Open Road, but not the longest; we shall save that until last. The tempo and style here is perfect, and reminds me in content of some of the early chill out music we used to hear from the Buddha Bar back in the day. This is really idyllic and without deliberately using a pun, right down Combs road, using for the first time synth king Paul Nagle and Ryan Taylor on Bass, Combs creates a truly quality long-form chilled arrangement of wonderful class and classic structures.

The title track is up next, and Closer to Home continues this wonderful weave of unique electronic music ambience and creative vibes, to enthral us with the tone and timbre in between the weave of the composition. The slow and mood filled beginning reminded me greatly of old UK EM band Code Indigo in parts, the synths here were simply amazing, as was the returning brass sections of Brian Good on Soprano Sax, this for me is what title tracks should all be about, the main canvas to illustrate the overall concept, and achieved brilliantly by Combs.

As we move into the deep waters of the release we come across an offering entitled As Night Unfolds. A wonderful subject to get ones musical teeth into so to speak, and Combs does that with such a delicate yet onward construction, that it literally lays itself open to the hours of darkness ahead. The collective element is strong here, and Combs the master narrator is in full musical bloom, in a radiance as bright as the moon itself.

The penultimate offering has a soft and soothing passage in its early stages and entitled Watching Embers Glow. Combs work is very pictorial and his story telling narrative and constructive artistic abilities are very compelling. This is one of those ambient constructs that I could literally listen to for hours, maybe even while embers are glowing upon a winter fire.

The curiously entitled Kimono My Bliss is the last doorway of the album, and one of the longest ending pieces I think I have ever heard at just over half an hour in duration. However that hovering intensity on keyboards by the artist is certainly scene setting and mood filled. The build and progression here is so wonderfully splendid that when we reach the half way marker of the track we literally feel lifted by Combs brilliant synths, and on its conclusion one will feel so soothed and calmed by its tones and peace filled vibes.

Closer to Home by Sensitive Chaos is easily the best body of work the artist has thus far created; surrounding himself with a fine array of classy musicians has helped created a field of vision within this album that is utterly vast and deeply compelling. Closer to Home by Sensitive Chaos is the complete deal of an album, it is a recording that will sit in the annals of musical time, as the artists seminal piece in the industry, it is that good.

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