Robert Haigh has been creating beautiful music under a handful of guises for many years now. I first encountered his music when, as Omni Trio, he became the touchstone for me – and is to this day, actually – for a type of ambient drum’n’bass. He explored enough nooks and crannies within that genre, edging out to jungle music, refining it eventually and stripping away the pulse to create a series of, well, you’d have to call them modern classical works really, minimalist – soundtrack-like – achingly lovely piano miniatures in the style of Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River score or if the work of Phil France and Chilly Gonzales crossed paths.
Prior to his Omni work he was making dark ambient music – a sort of lapsed new romantic if you like. Here with Darkling Streams it’s a continuation of the sound that’s been in Haigh’s head for the best part of a decade now (if not forever?) It’s the softly stirring piano stylings, there are moments (Circle of Deranged Fifths) were it’s dark and ominous and then there are the obviously filmic snapshots (End Title). The opening piece, Fugue State, seems to take its cue from the circular pattern of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells intro before breaking away to explore, gossamer-like, a world on the other side of the coin.
There are several pieces that take Brian Eno’s Another Green World version of ambient music and refine it – stripping right back to just acoustic piano – and then with the closing Rain For Avalon we have the brooding epic to sign off, lush textures from the world of electronica gently creep into place. Synth vamps and little moments to punctuate the delicate, ghostly tinkle.
It’s a lovely, rewarding album. Full of lush, hushed, shadowy music. My new late-night favourite.