Peacefulness can be found in ambience. Ambient music aims to create landscapes out of sound, but that's not limited to terrestrial places. Lawrence English's new album Cruel Optimism explores a world of distortion, with beauty in between.
The album is brought in my the expansive sound of 'Hard Rain,' a dramatic piece of music that feels cavernous and monochrome. At the same time, you can feel yourself traveling at a high velocity or caught up in something that is traveling at that speed, being oppressed by the pressure of it. It is followed up by the short but dark 'The Quietest Shore,' which rings in much the same fashion except for a more minimalist and less oppressive nature.
The music on Cruel Optimism really has you feeling lost and caught up in a strange world. Barren landscapes of rugged beaches and craggy cliffs are the images that will come to your mind in this record. Everything feels like it's crashing down on you, and when it's not, brief streaks of sunlight peak through the grey clouds. There's emptiness in the madness; 'Pillar Of Cloud' is simply a peaceful track with nothing but synths and vague sounds, empty at its core but eliciting an image of controlled chaos that's about to break free.
This album, given it's emptiness, doesn't really feel like it amounts to much. Sure, the landscapes are oppressive and dark, but there really is just one image that plays over and over with varying darkness. It's bleakness doesn't pair well with its aim. Even with the last track, 'Moribund Territories,' you don't feel much different as you did when the album started, or feel like you've changed scene.
You'll get lost in noise in Lawrence English's Cruel Optimism, but don't expect a groundbreaking result. The world of distortion is bleak and lacks a lot of scenery, and it is reflected in the album. If you want emptiness, this is your album.
Favorite Track: Requiem For A Reaper
Least Favorite Track: Negative Drone
Rating: 55 / 100
Buy or listen to Cruel Optimism here: