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Chris Merrick Hughes - Eirenic Life album review

Respected baroque pop architect Chris Merrick Hughes strips back to vault forward

Chris Merrick Hughes - Eirenic Life album artwork

Hughes’ reputation precedes him. Not only did he once pound drums in Adam’s Ants, he also produced the McLarenenvisaged Burundi-beat of their Kings Of The Wild Frontier album and most of the best of Tears For Fears’ multi-platinum catalogue. So when it comes to sonics, Hughes knows his business.

Kings…’ chart-topping constituent parts, Sowing The Seeds Of Love and Everybody Wants To Rule The World are big, blousy records; brash, massive, laden with lush ornature. Eirenic Life (a rare solo work, his first in 23 years) represents a polar opposite facet of Hughes’ complex musical persona – that of modern classicist.

Inspired, as always, by Steve Reich, Eirenic Life – six pastoral, outwardly tranquil piano pieces – might invite comparison with Eno, purely for its calming exterior, but rather than simply providing an agreeable aural wallpaper of somnolent ambience, closer attention reveals mood-manipulating depths more readily associated with Max Richter or Erik Satie. Hesitating glissandos tumble across brooding dronescapes, and while there’s a contemplative serenity to be found here, there’s also an unavoidable feeling of imminent dread to keep you unsettled and engaged. How very 21st century.