Tom Adams has been quite brave with his first full-length release on Moderna Records. ‘Particles’ is a selection of improvisational pieces centred around the piano. Then wrapping around synths, percussion loops and other effects, each instrument was a one-take deal. The result is an album that feels organic without rigidity but with plenty of heart and soul.
Each song is a particle name although curiously they start from the number four and aren’t in numerical order. The tracks often have subtitles too to help distinguish them. After a short intro track, the meat begins with ‘Particle VI’. It’s thin and radio frequency like piano production gives a wintery, vintage feel to the ivories. This is then accentuated with the tape hiss, vinyl spits and air puffing percussion and synths. It’s beautifully put together and works perfectly with the Heinali distorted synth and piano piece ‘Particle V’ which I loved on first listen. ‘Particle VI B’ is an anthemic Sigur Ros inspired piece. Huge drums, empty vocals echoing out ‘we’re following stars’ drenched in reverb and distant piano chords. It’s greater than the sum of its parts because it feels dream-like and bigger than you.
The flipside comes from the intimate recording of ‘Particle XII’ which is up close and personal. There’s a very European way of recording a piano in a room next to the hammers and this is how the beautiful minimalist shimmer of this track is presented. Tom Adams then explores his ambient electronica side with ‘Particle XI’. The bass and synths take over for this pitch bending post-electronica affair. The drums rumble on and the piano flurries in off key and distorted to accent the lower tones. It is a track that shows Tom can turn his hand to many arrangement styles. He then moves into the gentle piano ditty and then the mystical classical cinematic with ‘Particle IX’ and ‘VIII’ respectively. The latter really caught my ear because of how it uses reversed piano keys to add in a guitar plucking effect. Simply beautiful. As the album draws to a close with the stern and introspective ‘VII’ and the ambient cloud haze of ‘IV’ – ‘Particles’ softly slips away as if not to want to bother you again.
Tom Adams has made a cracking mood piece with ‘Particles’. I enjoy knowing its all done in one take and the fact that things aren’t always time shifted to perfection give the songs character as phrases have a human cadence to them. A thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to end.
Recommended track: Particle XI
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