Recorded “in a small room in Dunedin, New Zealand” we’re told from the Bandcamp page, where you can hear/buy this – the latest solo EP from Conrad Wedde of The Phoenix Foundation.
And as with his previous solo outing, Bronze (2008) it is wholly apparent what he brings to the Phoenix sound; just as you hear elements of what they offer to the band in the solo projects by other members in the opening seconds of opening track Cassandra, you get a glimpse of The Phoenix Foundation’s vaguely cinematic hue, that gentle, coaxing widescreen treatment/texture…
And it’ll be no surprise to anyone who has listened to Wedde outside of the band already to pick up on obvious influences (Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk).
Cassandra is a gentle, introspective opener.
The excitement – the little mind-melding rush – begins with Cabby. It’s as if Kraftwerk were commissioned to rework Fleetwood Mac’s Big Love, as if Jarre decided to take apart Pink Floyd’s On The Run and rebuild it using Eno’s art installation soundtracks as touchstone.
Bamboo plays out after Cabby as if a reminder of Equinox-era Jarre.
And then willowy guitar gently billows into place on Frozen Bones, as it moves toward a groove it takes with it hints of Kid Loco and Helios.
Islands feels like an instrumental backing track from one of Joni Mitchell’s 1980s albums and the closing title track of this 6-track EP takes us back to the edges of the Phoenix Foundation’s front lawn.
It’s a lovely, loping, wafting, floating, dreamy journey in and around and through and via various ambient soundscape touchstones. The sort of music that could never do you any harm, a little soundtrack to whatever time-out mini mind-movie you care to create.
Quite gorgeous all of the time and on the small handful of tracks in the middle of the EP (Cabby through to Islands) it’s a brilliant daydream that’s drawn into perfect, tight focus. Nice to think of it as starting life in that small room down in Dunedin, because it aims straight for the heart and the head as it heads straight for the skies.