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Birds of Paradise –  Earl Donald (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

As he proved so eloquently before on Shadow Visions, Earl Donald’s music has a wonderful softness to it without ever resorting to being too fragile or overly delicate. He makes a sort of ambient, electro pop but he does so by first building a strong, though often spacious, backbeat. And it is this solidity which means that he can then hang various understated textures on it, bass lines which drift rather than pulse, synth riffs which shimmer rather than chime and vocals which feel reflective yet hopeful.

And it is because there is such a rigid structure holding everything together that these softened layers sit well together never dominating but also never flying off in the breeze. Using lots of more minimal layers rather than two or three slices of bombast means that the light gets in. It shines through the various layers, blends their pastoral hues together, keeps things fluid and gently changing. And that’s the neat trick, build a solid foundation and what follows will be well-anchored, allowing it to flit and flutter, wash and wander as the mood takes it.

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