Two stalwarts from the Home Normal camp have teamed up to produce Consequence Shadows, a spellbinding collection of songs that move freely between sonic habitats both micro and macro. Despite being the first collaborative release to surface between Ian Hawgood and Giulio Aldinucci — fittingly on Hawgood’s label — it sounds like the two have worked together plenty. “The Wasted Consequence” was the first to capture and then hold my attention, the song sitting at the centre of the album’s five track list. Its beginning evokes an image of an insect orchestra tuning up. By the 2:30 mark the music is in full swing as finely-tuned pockets of feather-light sound blip and bubble to the surface. A gently played piano and a soothing voice are also heard, swept along in the music’s tumbleweed progression. If I were any less a gentle giant I might find it amazing that two grown men could tip-toe through a garden this well. Nonetheless, delicacy is a virtue in full display on Consequence Shadows.
The album’s opener, “Embarking Shadows,” begins with footsteps and the sounds of a person moving around and shuffling some things. On an album whose sonic territory can feel distinctly alien, this commencement is distinctly human. The beginning is a valuable place to leave a marker of this kind, so that no matter how far one goes exploring they can always identify home base. By midway through the first track the landscape is already becoming unrecognizable, coloured by a sweeping synthesis. The embarking shadows arrive and conquer, but light still lingers around their edges. By the time “Only Microns” rolls into focus, Hawgood and Aldinucci have turned up the tactility with a sharp focus, showing off a blend of bizarre but ultimately compelling sounds. The circuit-bent charm of the song’s first half becomes overshadowed by a looped piano phrase. It’s an elegant pivot in the direction of the piece.
The album’s long closing suites, “Other Ashes,” and “Other Ashes (Stijn Hüwels Rework),” alter the mood and direction slightly. Unsurprisingly, the lengthier timeframe brings an added expansiveness to the composition. Hüwels’ remake doesn’t tread too far from the original, but is noticeably more dramatic over the course of the back half. Hawgood and Aldinucci’s version is sublime, easing its way through stretches of bleary-eyed tones that flutter and pulsate hypnotically. By its final minutes the sounds spill across an imaginary flood plane. Looking at Eirik Holmøyvik’s cover photo now, this could just be the perfect image for this music. It leads us back around to that inaugural spin of the album, holding the packaging for the first time and hearing those human sounds that tell us we’re home.