The Child Set Free is Human Metronome’s attempt to create “a purely organic-sounding album” using a minimal amount of soft synth but a rich dose of flute and hand percussion along with guitar and field recordings. The attempt is quite successful; The Child Set Free is an intimate CD that sometimes feels quite like background music for a contemplative walk in a Japanese garden–and sometimes feels like there’s something about this garden they’re not telling you. Eelke van Hoof surrounds the listener with his crafted reality and creates a space that shifts between calmly cool and unnaturally shadowy, a place distinctly cut off from the world. The opening track, “Gi,” is a perfect 18-minute introduction to van Hoof’s sound-set. The details of his landscape fill in slowly, starting with wind and water sounds, the flute coming in like a whisper. Late in the track we hear the first guitar sounds, played with a pleasing hesitancy. van Hoof composed this largely on the fly, improvising in the moment and later adding finishing touches. (“Perfectionism was always lurking around the corner,” he says on his web site.) In the pieces “Yu” and “Jin,” van Hoof takes the listener through his darker spots, the clanging of gongs and temple bowls offsetting the sounds of a stream in the backdrop. “Meiyo” feels like a bridge between realities, opening with distorted bells, carrying the listener through a space that slowly gains solidity, and closes with more bells, notably more stable. Blocky percussion in the last few minutes grounds this idea of a return to a more physical place. The 15-minute closer, “Konshi,” is a purely quiet space, a misty, mind-salving dronewall that perfectly concludes the journey.
Human Metronome is in the midst of expressing and exploring his spirituality through music. With each new disc that expression seems to grow stronger and more compelling. The Child Set Free definitely benefits from that growth and also points the way for further exploration. I know I’ll be along for the ride.
Available from Resonating Earth.