Review: Crystals Are Always Forming – Leo Abrahams & Oliver Coates

Listening to Crystals are Always Forming is like looking through a kaleidoscope – every time the sounds form a recognisable shape they dissipate and the process starts over. This enigmatic release, the second by record label Slipdiscs, offers something from the worlds of both Stockhausen and Aphex Twin, from disjointed pointillism to mechanical beats. Coates is a virtuoso performer but anyone wanting to listen to unadulterated classical ‘cello should look elsewhere – here electronic tinkering often deprives the instrument of identity. Abraham’s role in the project is as much as curator as performer; Coate’s improvisations, which form the raw material on the eleven track CD, have been transformed into soundscapes ranging from the percussive II to the guttural VI, via the didgeridoo like V. The highlight on the disc is undoubtedly the hypnotically subtle beat and coruscating figurations of VIII.

Fit audience find, though few, is the epithet that springs to mind for Slipdiscs at the moment but, as was the case for Milton’s own work, this is likely to change as the label grows in recognition and popularity. Crystals are Always Forming is a limited 200-release edition; the way album charts are going this many sales might soon be enough to land them at the top of the charts.

Leo Abrahams – electronics

Oliver Coates – ‘Cello