The soundtrack to an exhibition produced by The Barbican Gallery and curated by Catherine Ince called Future Beauty: 30 Years Of Japanese Fashion, Unfolding is a 33-minute marvel downloadable for free from the composer’s website. The title tells everything in a way, the music disclosing its magnificence instant by instant, gradually revealing veiled colours and magically ringing shades in a combination of suspended grace and affecting poignancy. Rare tangible insertions – such as the crunching (vinyl?) noise heard just before the halfway mark – vainly attempt to divert the mind from a complete state of nirvana-like illusion, made easier by the practical immobility of the harmonic structure, which remains more or less anchored to a single tonal centre. Yet the concluding minutes introduce a meshing of diverse surfaces in that sense, the consequence being a degree of awesome uncertainty. The track is obviously ideal as a commentary for the kind of setting for which it was designed; however, Schaefer’s talent in choosing the right permutations of merging sounds warrants a superb result also for sheer home listening, gifting the piece with an aural superiority that projects it miles beyond the “ambient” status. In two words, great stuff – as we always anticipate from this never enough lauded artist.

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