It has been a pleasure to review Gifts from Crows new album titled Stories in Slow Light which was released on the 21st of February. Richard Laurence is the mastermind behind the composition in which his music has a delicate blend of Jazz and Classical harmonic styles, whilst never straying too far in either direction the entire album keeps a consistent tone throughout. We noted after listening to previous works that he uses more progressive elements with the use of more percussion, he does however stays true to his neoclassical, ambient roots which we love.
The album itself is influenced by the works of Helena Whitten, which Laurence came across in Some Such magazine. He states he was inspired by her use of slow shutter photography where individuals are amidst derelict, decaying spaces, breathing but also disappearing. Her work offers an ethereal reality, which coupled with the music allows the listener to be submerged in this other, somewhat dystopian world.
While the images exude a sense of isolation, they invite us to reflect what us, as humans, can feel - especially in the light of what is happening in the world (now more than ever) we can at least sympathise with the images and find meaning within the music Laurence creates. We have picked a few tracks that we believe highlights the nature of the album.
The first track 'Beyond The Frame' gives a clear indication to what we should expect from the album. The song is both mysterious and thought provoking, which leads you down the rabbit hole of immersivity. Given that the artwork being (aesthetically speaking) is Gothically beautiful, it perks your interest immediately to see how Laurence has used this medium to project his music.
We thoroughly enjoyed the use of expansive space as a concept through the utilisation of swift piano arpeggios. In some parts it felt haunting whilst in others, a sense of wonderment and curiosity. Take the third tack on the album 'All That Is Concealed' as a prime example of this; mysterious and introspective.
While the majority of the album focuses on more traditional elements of classical music, the use of ambient and distorted voices in the distance as 'Now Winter Has Come' adds more insight to the story that the images hold. It is Neoclassical in nature while putting emphasis on a more progressive percussive element for Laurence's work. We appreciate how he has been able to cleverly create meaning through this particular medium. Please listen to it here on Spotify.
'Childhood' jumped out to us through its charming representation of youth and innocence. It acts as a buffer in between the melancholy and sparseness of other tracks, and in our opinion shows hope in a world full of calamity. Nostalgic and playful, the melody is simple yet full of life. We can all relate to it in some way as we hold on to precious memories of the past.
Leaving us on a high note is the last track 'Empty Mirror'. We chose to describe it as hauntingly romantic for it leaves us feeling the beauty of the entire album. Dramatic and dynamic, it would perfectly fit into any Opera or Cinematic climax, giving way to pensive and provocative thoughts which pull on your heart strings.
After listening to the album in full multiple times we concluded that not only is this album enchanting, it is true art. The images merge perfectly with the music and we highly recommend listing to it on a walk in nature; be immersed in the sounds and follow the stories by ear. We would like to see this more music use the element of photography and look forward to see what Laurence comes up with next.
His entire album is available here on Spotify and please follow Gifts From Crows on Instagram and Soundcloud where you can explore more of Laurence's work and fall in love with his compositions past and present. If you would like to view Helena Whitten's work on Instagram, click here too!