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Music Review: Matthew Whiteside--Dichroic Light ****

Lorna Irvine reviews an album with 'unique sound which exists completely on its own terms.'

It's always the quiet ones who are the most fascinating...

Northern Irish composer/musician Matthew Whiteside, who is based in Glasgow, is a likeable, unassuming chap who makes extraordinary music. Recorded in two churches in Glasgow and Dublin for their reverberant acoustic properties, Dichroic Light takes its name from dichroic glass that displays two colours, depending on how the light hits it. It's a nice metaphor for an album which has the duality of incredible beauty and unsettling mood.

Opener Ulation is sparse initially, hypnotically layering in intensity. Whiteside's electronics with drones complement Emma Lloyd's more tentative viola. She plays viola d'amore in sharp, stabbing motions in Solo for Viola D'Amore and Electronics which slowly uncurls like a fist, becoming feral.

Celebrated Scottish musicians Red Note Ensemble collaborate with Whiteside on the medieval sounding Well, Well, Well which places Ruth Morley's alto-flute just off-centre, and within the ominous The World In An Oyster, An Oyster In The World, also featuring Red Note, Simon Smith and Robert Irvine's low-rumbling piano and cello prowls are pierced by the siren-like violin of Tony Moffat.

The title track, which is in three movements, has a sweeping, cinematic chill, weaving strings and haunting vocals by cellist Abby Hayward, which bleed together almost imperceptibly to sound utterly unearthly.

Pulsing, spiralling rhythmic phrases mean the music is ever restless, shape-shifting until it ebbs away, all spent.

For anyone who is interested in the sonic hinterlands of Steve Reich, Stravinsky, The Drowning of Lucy Hamilton, Micachu, Nils Frahm, Goblin's Suspiria and Giallo soundtracks, Bernard Hermann and Richard D James, this comes hugely recommended, unique sound which exists completely on its own terms.

Engineered by Timothy Cooper and Jimmy Eadie, the album's produced by both Cooper and Whiteside and was funded by Creative Scotland. It is available on iTunes and Amazon.

To watch Ulation, performed by Emma Lloyd, click here.

Tags: music

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