Acoustic instruments and tape recorders are sufficient for Hayden Berry to create a mysterious, austere, hypnotic ambience. This is the formula presiding over the fourth work of his personal ensemble Visionary Hours, which builds on the cosmic neoclassicism most recently proposed in “Still Point” (2013) and sublimates it in its most immaterial essence.
Compared to the chamber-music tone of that already magnificent work, in the eight tracks of “Footfalls Echo” this English artist based in Cracow on one hand enriches the compositions of a solid acoustic content; on the other hand he filters the melodies through analog delays transforming them into sound’s pure soothing essence.
In regards to the first aspect, strings, clarinet, guitar, flutes and vocals constitute the basic material from which Berry moves to sketch his peculiar auditory palette. The very nature of the process the sounds of the instruments undergo does not alter their harmonic content. At the most, it reduces them to extremely fine soothing modulations, as in the opening track “The Stillness Of The Violin” or the suspended flight of “Sad Time Stretching Before And After”, which condense in tracks barely longer than 4 minutes atmospheric symphonies worthy of the Stars Of The Lid.
The acoustic essence of “Footfalls Echo” can be recognized, almost as an auditory watermark, in the subtle delay that infuses it and comes to the surface sometimes unpredictably. The stroked chords in “Neither From Nor Towards”, the nocturnal solemnity of the horns in “Music Moves Only In Time” and the heart breaking strings of the closing movement charged with symphonic romanticism in “Which Is Always Present” characterize with their identity the whole trajectory of their respective tracks. Yet, it is not small surprise, for example, the appearance of warm chords of acoustic guitar among the alienating pulse of “The End Precedes The Beginning”.
Chamber-music structure and ambient-music tone continuously intersect each other on the auditory canvas depicted by Hayden Berry. His care for details, including executive ones, allows him to fully embrace complementary auditory worlds, obtaining a synthesis whose result is compelling and, indeed, visionary.
*English version of the review about the original 2015 release of the album. Translation by Elisabetta Polidori