Steeling myself for an hour’s worth of navel-gazing mood music having read the accompanying press release (‘mixing the sounds of Icelandic geothermal activity with the insect life of the Malaysian rainforest’), Ambiguous Dialogues proved to be a delight. It comes as no surprise to discover that Scots-born composer Philip Clemo is also a film-maker: the complex layerings, fast dissolves and evocation of place which characterise his music all seem to stem from a particularly filmic spirit. Clemo possesses the compositional vision to draw from a vast array of source material – from John Cage to electric Miles via Brian Eno – and create something both intensely personal and profoundly beautiful. The ghostly sonorities of “Altitude”, endlessly sustained string lines set against a subliminal electronic backdrop, recalls such trailblazing experimental works as Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic – the impression is of eavesdropping on some long-forgotten, endlessly repeating celestial concert. Like a moment of ecstasy frozen in time “Depth”, very much the climactic point of the 11-track collection, superimposes an incessant multi-tracked vocal riff against an increasingly turbulent percussive backdrop. If you occasionally want a slight variation in tempo – it would have been interesting to hear what Clemo might have done with his borrowings and juxtapositions at a slightly faster tempo – this in no way diminishes a fascinating and richly textured recording.
Peter Quinn, Jazzwise, UK.