(New Album Review) The Lonely Bell- The Lonely Bell

The Lonely Bell is an instrumental project of Scottish musician Ali Murray. Listening closely to his new release under this moniker (which Murray produced, recorded, engineered, and mastered on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland), I was reminded somewhat of friend Jason Gray’s Weather Exposed. Murray’s compositions are built around his simple but subtle guitar work, making the label “post-rock” seem appropriate. However, the incorporation of field recordings endows these tracks with a strong sense of place. The Lonely Bell is another brilliant contribution to the now overwhelming array of isolation ambient.

This is sad and windswept post-rock…but in the sense of Labradford, in which some primacy is given to sonic experimentation in addition to atmosphere. A wall of static that suffuses, but never completely overwhelms “Frozen in Memory” is just one example of the tempered experimentation that catapults Murray’s bleak vision into the spiritual extremes that isolation ambient and post-rock can reach at their best. And then there are also the faint chimes that can be heard from within the depths of a layered drone on the album’s title track. Murray’s take on this idiom is passionate and rich, and without a doubt leaps and bounds ahead of most of his contemporaries.

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