by Greg Haines
Miacd003 - 2006
Hearing the expertly constructed and deeply sensitive post-classical pieces featured on ‘Slumber Tides’ it is difficult to comprehend that the musician is only a mere 18 years of age. Harking from the boredom filled lands of Greater Surrey in England, Haines quickly tired of school life and found himself immersed in music, and in a move indicative of the current trend of our disillusioned youth, became obsessed with the intrigue of experimental sound. Travelling through Europe whenever he could and sleeping on the floors of musicians he would contact by email he quickly built up a network of friends, most importantly in Oslo, Norway where he spent time with Deaf Center’s Erik Skodvin (who also runs the Miasmah imprint) and his collaborator Kristin Evensen Giaver who contributes her haunting vocals on a number of Haines’ tracks. In Sweden Haines met up with Lampse’s Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) who kindly provided his pump organ skills and was another important musical influence in Haines’ journey, helping him to return home with a sense of Europe and a sense of unity far more mature than his years would suggest. This nomadic existence is represented beautifully on the album, which opens majestically with ‘Snow Airport’ a slowly building work of looped cello sounds played by Haines himself. The structure is similar in sound to the phasing experiments of Steve Reich or the electronic/acoustic works of Ryan Teague but Haines has injected enough of his own personality and experience to give the compositions a distinct sense of gravitas and a refreshing narrative. The second piece ‘Submergence’ builds over nine minutes with Kristin Evensen Giaver’s shimmering vocals drifting over waves of cello and subtle electronic structures until it reaches an almost cacophonous peak and dips into breathless squeaks and groans. By the time we reach the album’s centrepiece and highlight ‘Arups Gate’ we have already been on a rich emotional journey, but Haines doesn’t let off yet, instead he takes us even further into epic territory with xylophone and glockenspiel tones serving as the backbone of the track as those signature cello sounds swoop overhead. This track feels as if it could be married with any number of films or stories – yet Haines shows an incredible sense of restraint never letting the music get too melodramatic or overdone. For a debut album ‘Slumber Tides’ is a simply remarkable accomplishment, and a clear indication that we will be hearing a great deal more from Greg Haines.