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mark harris - The Boy Observes the Ocean
British ambient/electroacoustic composer Mark Harris comes from a visual arts background, and first came to attention on the Francisco Lopez-curated Birmingham Sound Matter compilation released on Audiobulb a year or so ago. This debut solo album finds Harris cultivating field recordings, snippets of bowed guitar, saxophone and violin and channelling them through his own customised software applications. The Boy Observes The Ocean seems like a quiet and rather subtle work at first but with a little volume cranking and concentration you'll be plunged into a fertile and vibrant listening environment that brims with emotive harmonies. In opening with 'I Am A Long Way From Home', Harris plunges into a slow-moving, yet gently tuneful system of drones and reverbs, with concrete textures creeping into the mix to lend an extra dimension. The found-sound element increases its presence on 'Approaching Tide - Heacham 1973', a track that abstracts coastal field recordings to the point where they have the same gauzy, echo-treated quality as the swelling instrumental tones around them. The strings embedded in this track prove to be especially ear-catching. The two final pieces are far lengthier affairs and Harris makes good use of the added room for manoeuvre; the title track is arguably the finest thing here, using bowed instruments to great effect and intermingling layers of electronically treated drone with more neo-classical influenced tendencies.