Exclaim.ca weighs in on Clem Leek’s “Lifenotes”
Compared to Max Richter, Dustin O’Halloran and others in the current school of neo-classical composition, Clem Leek is as much a miniaturist as a minimalist. The pieces on the UK artist’s second full-length have the fragmentary character of in-process sketches or thoughts. Piano chords are played tentatively, with pregnant intervals allowing for full breaths, or briefly flourish amidst rain and birdsongs before fading away ghost-like. The guitar pieces are a little more earthbound, but are still pensive and in the moment, like Leek is discovering the soundtrack to some real-time scene. The mood grows a little repetitive at the halfway mark of the 16 tracks and a greater intrusion of field recordings or some other complication (such as the drone and telegraph noise of “Origami Soldiers”) might have jarred the rising somnolence. The quality of play and conviction to keep thing micro rescue the album from also-ran status. Leek is one to keep an ear on.