[sic] Magazine

Western Edges – Prowess

Western Edges is the new ambient/electronic solo project of Richard Adams, founder member, legendary Leeds band Hood. Formed in 1991, Hood were at the vanguard of electronic infused post rock. Similar to peers epic45 their work displays a strong grasp of pastoral Englishness. Their album Cold House remains a high watermark for experimental pop.

Since Hood went on hiatus in 2005, Richard Adams has recorded his music under the moniker of The Declining Winter. (see previous reviews) He is also member of several other projects such as Memory Drawings, Great Panoptique Winter and Northern Exchange. This latest guise as Western Edges sees Adams put more of himself to the background. No fragile vocals here. Prowess begins with an ominous slab of ambiance and remains steadfastly wordless throughout. The mood lightens on ‘Suddenly: A Dream’ which tippy toes into Boards of Canada territories but we’re back to rumbling drone on the (sort of) title track ‘Western Edges’ (artist name not album title).

Throughout, Prowess is a nocturnal affair spreading its net wide over the various IDM and indietronica styles. The trancey ‘Solid Gold Soul’ has the feeling of entering a really good nightclub, staying for a couple of minutes, then leaving. In fact none of the pieces here are at all lengthy except the 7 minute closing track ‘Absence’. The whole album comes in at under half an hour. That isn’t a critique in itself. Just be aware that these punctual pieces are not grandiose explorations. They are put up and taken down instantly like the special offers at Aldi. Blink and you’ll miss ’em.

There’s a ‘Kranky meets n5MD’ vibe throughout this album. Yet it still feels like something of a missed opportunity. When the epic, climactic ‘Absence’ began with billowing Seefeel loops I thought this was going to be Prowess’ crowning glory. Sadly the guitar that gatecrashes proceeding feels out of place. It is both too prominent yet not dub reggae enough to quite carry the piece.

I gather it is the tendency in todays work market to condense your c.v. to one side of A4. Keep it brief and punchy. It feels as though someone asked Adams to fit his musical credentials onto a postcard here. I’m tempted to say ‘back of a postage stamp’ but I’d be laboring the point. He’s worth more though, capable of more and ‘more’ was what I wanted. That said, Prowess does have its moments. Literally.

Prowess is available now on Sound In Silence and download or limited, hand-assembled CD.

The Declining Winter review