Having grown accustomed to Keith Berry’s prolonged silences between releases, it is with a mix of surprise and contentment that we greet a couple of new items in a restricted temporal frame. There is a reason, though, as Elixir and Simulacra – the latter a double CD – originate from a different handling of equal sources. Except from episodic similarities grounded on Berry’s methodical lulling of our consciousness via looping wiseness, we find typically riveting indications of the Englishman’s prowess. At the same time it comes quite obvious to join the albums in a single sentence, perhaps divided into not two but three equally persuasive, if occasionally enigmatic acoustic settings.
Elixir symbolizes a somewhat perturbed sense of anticipation for events that are not necessarily going to occur anytime soon. In terms of strictly harmonic content this is most probably the music that strikes deepest: everlasting chordal suspensions constitute the prevailing color, nailing us to an emblematic “need more” perspective within a womb of bottomless reflections and fluctuating imageries. Halfway through marine calmness and oxygen-less gloom, this work could be employed to set forth the transition from adolescence to adulthood, including all the dreaming – happy ending or no.
The first disc of Simulacra seems to gather Berry’s respectful nods to some of the illustrious precursors and/or past and current influences. Now and then the “symphonic reiteration” factor appears to signal the composer’s appreciation of William Basinski’s vision (without transcending to the “mere representation” status: Keith always knows when to return to his own conception). Even stranger, there are segments where certain melodic sequences – either peaceful or just about obsessive – involuntarily summon echoes of the Cosmic Couriers era (name your favorites here). The artist bares the psyche with humility and sincerity, warranting the expulsion of any residual uncertainty in regard to his modus operandi.
The second disc is a triplet of lengthy pieces, the duration ranging from 36 to 20 minutes. We’re in “ultimate mesmerism” territory: fragments repeated ad infinitum, collateral noise and soothing melody coalesce into an alliance of lethargic nuances, which we never get enough of. This section is brilliant under many aspects, working extremely well both as “home installation” material (Eno-esque dilatory drifting not omitted) and as a means of mental isolation. Rather than simple recollections, Berry looks to explicit selected shades of the imagination in an attempt to bring out at least a few memorable details of an otherwise untroubled REM phase.