Participant - Your Better
Info: Dublin ambient musician Participant (Stephen Tiernan) has just released his second E.P., Content, the follow up to his 2014 debut Bit Slow. In the gaps between other music ventures he started experimenting with his music, firstly as a hobby, but eventually turning his attentions firmly to his own material. Tiernan exclusively sampled from his past recordings, demos, and projects to create a library of sounds and textures within which to nestle his sincere and heartfelt songs. Participant’s approach and attention to detail results in songs that feel layered and intricate yet still retain a sense of space, in his own words; "I didn’t realise it until afterwards but Bit Slow was a weight I’d been carrying for years. Since it’s release I’ve gained more pleasure from music than ever before. It might not be obvious at first listen but Content has an undercurrent of hope and love. Feelings I’d struggled with incorporating into my music until recently."
Content is pretty awash with variety, having listened to 'Your Better', the E.P.'s opener, for seem reason I expected to hear variants of that sound and mood without it sounding too different across the remaining tracks. 'Your Better' is etched from mid to late 90's electronic acts such as Massive Attack and Portishead, rippling undercurrents of dark yet chilled waters, it's unsurprisingly calming in a short space of time.
'Sooner or Later' brings richer textures forth, whilst experimenting Tiernan has managed to achieve a very well structured assembly of shifting tectonic noises and sounds that create a slowly whirling feel, picking up and rowing back abruptly to give a smooth and pleasurable pace to proceedings. The aforementioned variety truly kicks in on 'A Change', the OK Computer-esque acoustic intro a brief launch pad toward a cosmic plateau of all-encompassing spacey fuzz and clicks. At this point you also become more and more aware of the uniqueness of Tiernan's voice, slightly effeminate at times before lowering tone to almost spoken word.
The E.P. closes on 'By Default', personally I was reminded of Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue and indeed the band themselves in it's orchestral reach, it's clear by now that Tiernan possesses a rich imagination at this point and you can easily forget that this music is only being created by one person. At times chamber pop, always ambient, Content is definitely a collection of songs that appeals very much to a certain genre of music which I've always had a soft spot for. It also sounds quite professional in its production and you hope that this new found joy of writing and composing is only an initial spurt that will see his creative side dish up many more treats.
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