Review of Clem Leek’s “Lifenotes” by

Posted by on Oct 31, 2011 in clem leek, lifenotes, review | No Comments

The album cover image may suggest this is another piano-based album. Not true, although the piano plays an important role.

The first two tracks on his new album Lifenotes clearly demonstrate that Clem Leek is a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, as well as violin, guitar and various other instruments. 
Along the album, the main instruments vary but the atmosphere remains effectively restrained.  

“This CD was all about getting back to basics and recording pieces that were simple, which happens to be my best way of writing.”

“When your body hurts with emotion, only then do you know who you are.” 
(inner sleeve statement)

Though Lifenotes may be an emotional album, that does not mean it’s a sad album. 

Besides the different instruments Clem plays, he adds some delicate sound effects and field recordings to enhance the variety of acoustic images. This is what may distinguish his album somewhat from fellow contemporary musicians such as Peter Broderick, Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran, and Helios/Goldmund/Keith Kenniff. 

Lifenotes presents 16 tracks in just 35 minutes. This means the tracks are all short, in a range from under a minute to about three minutes for the longest tracks. They are Sketches, in a way, just like the beautiful album cover. Short notes, Lifenotes, indeed. 

Piano, guitar, or subtle shortwave electronics (on Origami Soldiers): Clem Leek’s sound and compositions are right on spot. Sparsely coloured, restrained, but simple? I would not dare to call this pieces “simple“. 

original review