Cousin Silas is the nom de plume of UK-composer, producer and self-proclaimed “sound alchemist” David Hughes. He has describes his music (which he has created since 1996) as “audio photographs” or “moodscapes”. Within the creative process, he seems to draw inspiration from such diverse sources as writer JG Ballard, Fortean events, memories and Brian Eno.
I have to confess I never heard of this very prolific musician before (although he seems to be around since 2001), having published a vast number of ambient releases on various net-labels around the globe.
From his blog I learned “The Sound of Silas” is the very first physical double album (produced as a specially designed limited cd-r release of 100 copies along a digital download) in Silas-history featuring remastered existing tracks and over 70 minutes of new material found on the second half.
As such it makes a suitable introduction to the sheer breadth of his output, ranging from soft glowing Eno-eque ambient-piano/ambient guitar musings with weird and rather quirky sound effects (“The End of Winter”, “Of Passing Days”), to mysterious and foreboding soundscapes (“Into the Dark” part 1 and 7) along dark and drony spheres created with synths, many different e-guitars along a lot of audio processing techniques. A minimal approach is the key in all of these.
The “downside” of an overview/collection like this though is there’s no consistency tying things together, as it showcases bits of the various styles executed during the years. Mr Hughes touches some very nice ground though on e.g. the mellow “Endless Summer” and “Mini Dronescape”, the more rhythmic-driven, rich sounding “Future Tense”, the early Hemisphere-ish “A Place of Magic” and the lush spherics making up pieces such as “The Far Distance”, “Through the Moon’s Opaque Light”, “Down the Darkening Hills” and “Time Flow”. A special moment of reflection is found on the emotive-confronting “Inside Chernobyl”. The second half (the new stuff) of the recording is the strongest in my opinion, while I’d prefer the guitar sounds to be less upfront and more velvet.
The imaginative outcome (with occasional spoken words from what appear classical texts) featured on “The Sound of Silas” illustrates both the dark ambient side along David’s more accessible electronic/guitar soundscape excursions. Some further efforts on the production and mastering side would be most beneficial to open it up while creating more depth and impact.