EP Review: Cal Raasay's 'Still'
All being well, and the gods of good music are paying attention, the release of the ‘Still’ EP should put Newcastle based composer/producer Cal Raasay on both the ‘One to watch’ and ‘Brave new sound’ musical lists.
Blending electro with classical piano, ‘Still’ progresses the work of celebrated ambient minimalist Brian Eno by adding emotion to the genre's traditional ability to provoke reflective thought.
Openers ‘After all’ and ‘Over Blue’ both structure minimalistic piano on top of delicate synthesised sounds and background beats. Stylistically both are reminiscent of Karl Hyde’s ‘Edgeland’ album. Whilst the music of ‘After’ benefits from being kept purely instrumental, Raasay adds distant, conversational, samples to ‘Over’, producing the effect of listening in on a conversation which you can’t fully make out, but know is important. With its ability to make you listen for sounds in the middle distance, ‘Over’ becomes deeply haunting.
Third track ‘Radiate’ increases the electro to piano ratio of Raasay’s production. Light with its synthesised sound, the track uses cleverly intimate, broken, effects as a foundation for what is a simple, yet beautiful, piece of electronic minimalism.
Final, and standout, track ‘Sgurr’ at 10 minutes, is the EP’s longest, and most complete composition. Journaling a piano sound from it’s inception, through to growth, peak, and a final descend into silence, Sgurr is almost a meditation on life itself. Light and minimal in its sound, yet heavy and emotive in it’s meaning, it is reminiscent of ‘We lost the sea’s’ ‘Departure songs’ or Hans Zimmer’s ‘Inception’ soundtrack, describing both the fragility of life and the power of human connections.
In it’s overall sound ‘Still’ may be a close relative of Eno’s ‘Thursday afternoon’ yet narratively this feels like a heartbreak record at it’s core; reminding us that love always ends in loss. 'Still' is fantastically complex yet simple at the same time.