Friday, March 18, 2022

Album Review: Music for Hard Times by The Living Earth Show and Danny Clay

Review by Candice Michelle

Presented as a two-volume set, Music for Hard Times is the sonic creation of The Living Earth Show and Danny Clay who conceived this album with the global hardships of the past couple of years as its inspiration. Recorded in isolation, and compiled and edited by Clay, volume one was created in April 2020 at the home of guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson of The Living Earth Show. Contributions to the album include young musicians from the San Francisco Girls Chorus led by Valerie Sainte-Agathe, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music led by Edwin Outwater. Further complimenting the audio experience is a limited-edition book created by Nick Ross and Brandie Grogan, as well as a full-length film produced by artist Jon Fischer.

Comprised of 15 compositions spanning approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, each track is titled after the album and named in parts, opening with “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 1”. In what could be described as minimalist classical, avant-garde and experimentally environmental, Music for Hard Times employs various field recordings, conservatory instruments and textural vocalizations – effectively resulting in consciously understated ensemble arrangements.

Conveying an air of contemplative abstraction, sparsely executed and improvised melodies take freeform shape from an intriguing sound palette – such as the crystalline bells, slushing ice effects and suspended brass tones on the piece “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 4” – or the singing bowls, chirping birds and natural white noise on “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 5”.

Other notable pieces include “Music for Hard Times, Pt. 8” – the album’s lengthiest piece at nearly 13 minutes – which is sustained throughout by a droning undercurrent upon which sparse textural instrumentation gradually builds into a delicate confluence that washes over the aural senses. On “Music for Hard Times: Vol. 2, Pt. 2”, classical strings and vocalized improvisations expressed in delicate melancholic croons recall the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.

Culminating in an epilogue titled “Music for Hard Times: Epilogue”, a ray of sunshine seemingly pours through on the 15th and final track, bringing with it a soft glimmer of solace, hope and comfort.

~Candice Michelle for Auralscapes

For more information please visit the artist’s website. Music for Hard Times is also available at Bandcamp, Amazon and more.