Caul - Let the Stars Assume the Whole of Night
Title: Let the Stars Assume the Whole of Night
Label: Hypnos (digipak CD)
Caul has released an array of incredible dark, cinematic ambient music, but much of it has been self-released in small quantities, so many listeners who might potentially enjoy his work might be unfamiliar with it. His collaboration with Numina, Inside the Hollow Realm, did receive a fair bit of attention five or six years ago, but Caul has mostly flown under the radar. As I mentioned, most of his work has been self-released, often in elegant, artisanal hand-made packaging. See his Discogs Page for more information about his work, or his own site at caul.org/.
Let the Stars Assume the Whole of Night is a wonderful mix of sounds and atmospheres: dark without being spooky, melodic but not pretty, listenable, but too nervous and somber to ever become predictable. These pieces are more composed and structured than most ambient music, more akin to the soundtrack for some dark and moody piece of cinema. Imagine the score to an undiscovered work by David Lynch or Andrei Tarkovsky and you have the idea. Listen to the sound clips below and decide for yourself.
Track listing with MP3 samples:
Purchase for $12.99 on Hypnos Online Store
Melodic brooding ambient with occasional beats.
Let The Stars Assume The Whole Of Night is not one of those ambient albums of drifting, minimal drones or spacey expanses and tribal beats. Actually Caul here reminds me of some of the experimental music of the early 1980s on labels such as 4AD - individual in nature and quite personal; unfettered by genre limitations; dark and mysterious; more guitars than most ambient. Opening with mournful cello strains and strummed chords, A Clear Eye Loves The Shadows As Well nicely sets the tone for the album: melodic and harmonious yet restrained and simple. Track two opens with a light beat and the kind of baleful bassline that would be at home on many a goth-oriented 80s piece developed with delicate chiming tones, and lazy electric guitar. At times prowling through shadows and cinematic in scope; sometimes isolationist and bleak with haunting mechanics and sonic disturbances; sometimes nostalgic and dusty with reverb, sombre piano phrases repeating and evolving. This is a unique album, carefree and confident in its expression.
Let The Stars Assume The Whole Of Night is a tidy digipack presentation of two panels; disc held in a plastic grip on the rightmost panel. Artwork is a grainy still life photograph of wooden boards, folded drapes and thorny twigs cast upon with stark shadows. A flat black border running horizontally along the top crosses both front and back when opened out. The rear mirrors the front cover in a more subdued, ghostly hue of pale green. Track titles with times alongside are here. Inside the left section provides minimal information: brief credits, contact details and thanks. The inner imagery is of a more abstracted nature - corrosive colours and ragged textures - intriguing shapes.
Caul has been around since the mid 90s delivering quite a range of limited-number self-released albums as well as collaborating with other like-minded souls. This latest offering is on the Hypnos label and contains twelve shady compositions of ethereal, ghostly beauty. The tracks are all relatively short, most around the four minute mark. Titles well reveal the tenor of the music We Are Like Heartless Shadows; She Is Holy To Those Who Are Lost Or dead; Bells Ring Softly In The Twilight Air... You can explore the album further at the Hypnos website and at Caul's own official site - both offering sound samples and Hypnos displaying the cover art both insdie and out."
--Morpheus Music / ElectronicMusicMall.com
"Caul is Brett Smith.
A variety of instruments are employed in conjunction with electronics to generate soothing tuneage.
In one track, piano delineates passages of delicate resonance. In another, guitars establish a mildly bouncy mood. One piece flourishes with cerebral cellos, while another utilizes the darker timbre of bass in tandem with crisply twinkling keyboards to create a gentle flow. Another track combines soft violins with heavenly chorales to achieve a celestial demeanor. While another piece takes a dark turn with remote percussives, grinding guitar chords and ominous tonalities, all of which accomplish a pensive mood more than any sense of dread.
While electronics are definitely present (often in a subtle fashion that serves to mesh everything together) their presence is generally too subliminal to clearly detect.
Despite their versatility, these compositions share a common temperament of pensive melodies. The music is somber, but not dark; relaxed, but not drab. No matter what you want to classify it as, though, the end result is satisfying, rewarding the listener with a pleasant sonic environment. Since the tracks are all short, the type of pleasantness changes in definition but remains constant in its lilting result."
--Review by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity