[sic] Magazine

Clem Leek – Lifenotes

This is a beguilingly lovely release from Clem Leek . Minimal for the most part, each of the 16 tracks briefly evokes a reflective mood and then moves on. The majority of the pieces are built around piano, with tracks such as ‘Breaking Down’ and ‘Trying Too Hard’ tracing lump-in-the-throat melodies across a blinkingly blank canvas of icy reverb. For me, the most affecting tracks are those with guitar as the main instrument, such as ‘Past The Pasture And Beyond The Hill’ and ‘You’re So Very Far Away’, with Leek clearly as skilled on a six-string as he is on the ivories. Notes blur together to create a pleasingly immersive wash of sound.

Albums such as this often feel like a collection of sketches in preparation for something more fully realised; not so with Lifenotes . Despite their brevity, these pieces feel complete. ‘The Middle Part’ and ‘November 11th’ are as basic as pairing a field recording with the faintest of piano melodies – but it works. Only ‘The Diary I Never Kept’ and ‘Hopscotch’ should have been left on the drawing board, their melodies banal and stilted.

Short, sweet and very fine, Lifenotes will be my introduction to the rest of Leek’s discography. If these song sketches are an indication of what’s in store on the rest of his albums, I’m looking forward to exploring further.