|Food: Quiet Inlet
Posted by Alex Torres, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-10-12 07:43:01
Clearly, a band releasing its sixth album must be doing something right and appealing to a sizeable audience, so Food's style of ambient, meditative jazz must pull in the punters. Ambient, meditative music does, in general, appeal to a fair market; finding that market is usually the problem!
Quiet Inlet does what it says "on the tin". It's a collection of sonic explorations centering on percussion and reed/wind instruments. What sets these compositions apart is the specific balance between the percussion on the one hand and the reeds/wind on the other. Other than "Mictyris", which builds up some tempo and "noise" as it seems to try to emulate the sounds of a city, the pieces are all contemplative. "Mictyris" is the stand-out track of the album; the piece brings together the best of both main elements, as well as adding some electronic wizardry into the soundscape's focus region. Overall, the playing is top notch, with some of the reed playing in particular being sublime.
I heard the album a couple of times, separated by about a week, and had the same problem on both hearings: I really enjoyed the beginning, when I was able to focus and follow the music, but from about the half-way point of "Becalmed" my attention became just that and the music's contemplative qualities lulled my attention into a state of turpor. The latter half of the album, it seems to me, focuses too much on too little reed/wind melodic development at the cost of the percussion – which had been the "star" of the opening half – to the detriment of the whole. Some recovery of this aspect is evident in the latter half of "Fathom" but, by that stage, it is too late from an album dynamics point of view; the normal listener will already have switched off.
In conclusion, during the early part of the album, whilst the percussion dominates or is at least an equal sonic partner, there is much to enjoy; also, if you take any of these album tracks out and listen to them in isolation, there is much to enjoy; but as an album listening experience, even as a meditative listening experience, the enjoyment fades during the latter half due to there being insufficient sustained sonic development.