From listening to ‘Lifenotes,’ the new record from British composer Clem Leek, one can intercept many of its qualities. The album is full bodied in its approach, in that it shows the musician in his most wide-ranging form to date. However it also houses a minimalist style that feels like new territory for an artist previously associated with scores of grander scope. Yet given the name of the record, and the fragmented, miniature compositions at hand, one senses an album that provides a snapshot into the artist’s life and the influences that have shaped his approach to sound creation.
Across this 16 track album, there seems to be three styles of recording at hand. These can in fact be drawn from the opening three songs. Starting with ‘Page 1,’ a familiar veil of ambient glitches and electronic noises are fused with gentle piano and violins. The second track ‘Past the Pasture and Beyond the Hill’ focuses more on stringed instruments with a slow diving electric guitar gracing the score and working in close tandem with soothing violins. The result is a pleasant molding of dreamy yet uplifting melodies. On track three the final aesthetic style of the album is established; that of the solo piano. Here listeners are treated to the minute, yet richly emotive playing that has become a prominent fixture within the experimental music scene. It is by no means a co-incidence that the artist cites fellow pianist Keith Kenniff as an influence on his music with the solo piano compositions holding a Goldmund-esque feel to them.
These styles are then referenced throughout the album, but not in a repeated order. Listeners will be sure to enjoy the ambient and field-recording infused songs like ‘The Middle Part’ and ‘November 11th’ while ‘The Diary I Kept’ holds shades of Max Richter in its take on piano scoring. Likewise, the graceful guitar play on ‘You’re So Very Far Away’ is certain to touch the emotions of listeners.
‘Lifenotes’ embodies many of the qualities that we love from a musical movement that is hard to classify as one particular style. A collection of songs that appear both personal and styled by many different influences, it is clear Clem Leek is a musician who is an avid listener as well as partaker within this musical foundation.
– Josh Atkin for Fluid Radio