This may be an overly personal take on Adam Coney’s new disc Pavilion, but the pulsating electronics that serve as a basis for opener “Brute Love” struck me as almost inexplicably pleasing. I love its pitch, even though I’m not sure why. And my reaction feels oddly emotional, given that we’re talking about electronic beeps.
As the track progresses, and Coney layers on a variety of complementary sounds including an exquisitely distorted guitar strum, those pulses evolve into a melody most any new classical music composer would be proud to call their own.
It is just one of the high points on this follow-up to Coney’s 2014 solo debut The Fall Of The Flamingo Gardens. His notes describe the new project as an “instrumental meditation on idiosyncratic timbre and distilled improvisation that draws on contemporary classical, electronic, minimalism, folk and jazz vernacular.”
We get nine new tracks featuring analogue synthesizer, guitar, drum machine, double bass, cello, electric piano and ukulele. All of it arranged in-studio, in a converted Ramsgate laundry house on the shore of the English Channel.
“In some way I am trying to create my own take on chamber music, the functionality of the parts and the relationship to technology are not dissimilar to my mind,” he writes. “Ultimately it is an attempt to locate an emotional resonance with each musical movement, be that pre-composed forms or more improvised arrangements.”
The contrast between Coney’s electronics and the guitar and double-bass parts provide the album a welcome breadth of sound. Besides supporting his goal to incorporate jazz and new classical music influences, these instrumentation decisions provide him ample opportunity to present the kind of complex arrangements we don’t get from solely electronic works.
“Of Eyes Clean” is a lovely example, featuring Peter Bennie on double bass. The connection between his performance and Coney’s guitar is a surprising success. Taken apart, the two pieces don’t feel like they should work together. But they do.
“Siren” offers a similarly unexpected match of buzzing electronics and rather traditionally played guitar. “The Sun Rattle” pairs blues-influenced classic rock guitar with the kind of percussion you’d expect to hear in a sound sculpture. Coney has a way of putting instruments together in surprising ways, to great effect.
Pavilion is dedicated to Jonathan Nicholson and his family. Coney worked with the family as a caregiver in 2015. “This profound and challenging life experience is the primary inspiration for the work herein,” he writes.