We often view the various art forms and creative urges as travellers on separate paths. As if art doesn’t all emanate from the same place within its creators. As if, once set free, it doesn’t impact upon and inspire others, like an unstoppable chain reaction of creation and positivity. And that is precisely what lies at the heart of this latest album from Gary Bamford.
Unbeknownst to him, during the lockdown period of 20/21, a young artist, Harrie, had been playing his music while painting. She invited him to play at one of her exhibitions when normality finally resumed. Gary created a playlist so that people might hear some of the musical influence behind her Antidote series of paintings. But what was going on in the next room was the fascinating aspect of the show. As Gary improvised various soundscapes with guitar and keyboards, Harrie painted based on the music she heard. Musical and visual creativity in a symbiotic dance (hence the album name) both leading and both being lead.
Over the next few weeks, both parties took away what they had created that night and put the finishing touches to their freeform visions. In Harries’s case, the result is a series of five paintings that will form the basis of the next exhibition. In Gary’s case, the result is a gorgeous two-record instrumental album.
And gorgeous isn’t too hyperbolic a word. The music here is a beautiful collection of cascading piano lines, guitar-driven sound washes, pedal manipulation and ambient textures, understatement, restraint and sheer beauty. It wanders between modern classical and gentle progressive rock, cinematic backdrops, and meditative delicacy.
While there might only be two instruments involved, the ability to manipulate the music through technology and the sheer skill and inventiveness of the man himself means that the music often sounds like a full orchestra. Fluttering flutes, brooding cellos, drifting strings, and ornate woodwind are all conjured up to help weave these deft and dexterous sonic designs.
Not only a gentle and gorgeous album (there’s that word again) but one that reminds us that music is at its most richly rewarding when made at the moment. It is also a neat reminder that art feeds off art, that one inspiration acts as the springboard for another artist’s leap of faith, and that art should be free to take on the form it chooses rather than merely created according to fad and fashion, labels, expectations or generic boundaries. This album, its birthing process, and what it represents is what art and creativity, music and pure, of-the-moment expression are truly about.