Upon first listen of Leading Edges by Leeds progressive artists Helecopter Quartet, sit in a quiet place, with no distractions. These are soundscapes intended to be perceived, not allowed to fade into background ambience. There are things occurring in these pieces that may demand your attention.
Distortion, feedback, subtle dissonance, and sumptuous beauty all play parts in these journeys. Their effort represents a conscious move away from a typical band format to an interaction between two imaginative sonic artists creating worlds as yet unknown. Execution of the material is as interesting and surprising as I've ever seen. I was continually reminded of the soundscapes created by King Crimson at their best, playing off of each other and building together these new vistas.
The Way It Never Was opens the album with a sawing violin loop, as the duo weave a tapestry of fear and longing, making me recall past efforts when the artists were with Catscans. The piece swings progressively through sections resembling landscapes, exploring the small corners of an alien world, violins like bird calls populating it.
There are two versions of Refuge on the album, and I have to say that I prefer the original mix to the remix at the end of the album. I'm not a fan of added beats in remixes, and although done well, I felt that they detracted from the sonorous original, which I found both beautiful and a little disturbing.
110 brings us a subtle drone as backdrop. It showcases the melodic leads, providing the space in which the duo play off of each other subtle brilliance, rendered in distortion and feedback.
The first synth notes of Trailing Edge are slightly dissonant, providing a framework of nervousness, soon occupied by the soaring violins, subtly punctuated by pulsing guitar. Glistening in the end as the pair trade roles, violin providing the big backdrop, as the guitar comes to the foreground.
The last piece is an epic soundscape. This Hothouse is obviously not quite safe, and makes me wonder what grows amid its tangled branches in the entropic heat. A great journey as the piece evolves slowly over the next nine minutes or so, building to cacophonous heights of distortion to the emergence of the things which perhaps should not be.
All in all, an excellent effort. It's worth your time to sit and listen attentively to it.