With some albums, concept is key. That is certainly the case for Dances With Whales
It’s a rich and sprawling ambient offering that takes its inspiration from Shawn Heinrich’s underwater photography of girls literally dancing with whales. So often an album title can be somewhat off putting, and it’s fair to say that here it is a little misleading. This is not the airy, new age floaty music it sounds like it might be. As the album opens with its title track, it becomes clear very soon via the presence of a reasonably hard dance beat that this is an album of contrasts. It paints a picture well of oceanic live while also bringing into the mix a certain urban feel that creates a welcome tension within the music. ‘Krillsong’ leans heavily towards the work of Einaudi, using spiralling motifs that work together to create a kind of sonic undertow, while the beats provide a sense of direction and progression. There are moments of peace and calm to be found as well, such as on the ‘Bowhead Ballet’ which has moments akin to the work of Clint Mansell, and perfectly provide the kind of backdrop for a stage performer to dance to. ‘The Remora’ draws on industrial tones that capture the concept of the oceanic hitch-hiker that the track’s namesake refers to, just as the listener feels carried along by the current of the music, uncertain of where they may find themselves arriving at the end of the journey. Dances With Whales is a fascinating project and well worth a listen to any fan of more experimental instrumental music.