Emotive phrasing meets minimalism and the art of hanging a pause in the new release from Antonymes, aka composer Ian Hazeldine. The License to Interpret Dreams is a disc in which you’ll be taken completely in by a piece and then wonder if it’s done or if the disc’s over–only to have Hazeldine drop another delicate note into a piece that’s briefly reveling in a bit of negative space. Hazeldine’s not afraid of silence, clearly recognizes its role in his work and uses it to enhance the experience. License… has an acoustic base, mainly piano with some strings in places, supported by light touches of synth pads and electronic texturing. With this, Hazeldine turns out spaces with a dream-like softness anchored in the certainty of the piano. He can also cull compelling ideas just from his instrument alone; the story at play in the deliberate delivery of “Landscape Beyond An Open Window” makes full use of its short two-minute span to embed itself in the listener’s emotions. “A Light from the Heavens” bulds from that same space, then adds strings and brushed percussion to build to a snap-shut closing. Throughout the disc, Hazeldine plays with other ideas as well. Some work better than others. The closer, “On Approaching the Strange Museum,” borders on dark ambient, foggy drones over a distant pulse of percussion that grows closer and heavier. (I am not quite sure if a long pause in this track is meant to separate it from a “hidden” track that follows, or if it’s just an artistically long pause.) “Womb of the Mother” also keeps itself in ambient territory, a drama carved in rising and falling notes. Where Hazeldine first goes slightly astray is with “Doubt,” where Jan Van Den Broek recites a piece by music journalist Paul Morley.Van Den Broek’s choppy delivery, meant to sync with the cadence of the instrumentation behind it, becomes a bit grating. (By comparison, the use of voiceover in “Oradour-Sur-Glane” is perfect, the disembodied narrator listing place names against a drone with very light piano sprinkled over it.) The following track, “The Door Towards the Dream” simply feels out of place, with bold,trumpet-like keys baying a little brashly. It’s not that either of these tracks are bad; they just feel like they belong somewhere else. For most of its listening time, The License to Interpret Dreams is inventive and engaging–especially if you don’t mind occasionally waiting for the next bit of beauty.
Available from Hidden Shoal Recordings.