The Last Sense to Fade in Waveform Magazine

This UK-based duo of guitarist Michael Bearpark and electronics-whiz and horn player Andrew Ostler [who also runs Expert Sleepers] has released several albums since forming in the late 90s and their current release is an epic one, consisting of over 90 minutes of wonderful reflective electro-acoustic ambience that’s warm and full of movement, with additional guitar provided by Jon Durant and Bill Walker. Some of the music was recorded remotely, but everything sounds together and well thought-out. The band also re-purposed previous live recordings as the basis for new music and added additional instrumentation and new themes. While some of the pieces feel mournful, nothing feels hopeless which makes this release especially appropriate for our time.

- Tom Ojendyk, Waveform Magazine
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Home Diaries 029 on The Progressive Aspect

I’d never heard of the whitelabrecs label until their Home Diaries series this year, and it’s a series well worth checking out (though it will take you some time to work through all the albums which comprise it). I can’t claim to enjoy every release in the Home Diaries series, but there are some which are particularly outstanding. One such was Pie Are Squared’s contribution (number 013 in the series), and this, by UK duo Darkroom, is another. In a way, this album seems almost the antithesis of Pie Are Squared’s release. Where 013 gave a feeling of comfort and security, 029 screams discomfort and insecurity. My 11 year old walked into the room while I was listening to opening number, Arrokoth, and asked if I was listening to the soundtrack to a horror film. And she’s right, because that track especially would definitely provide a perfect horror soundtrack, as it can be particularly unsettling. I’d be lying if I didn’t say the sound effects towards the end of this piece haven’t made my jump on at least a couple of occasions.

The second part of the album, The Uncut Stones of Night, is less creepy and scary, but still full of chills. Darkroom have a wonderful way of keeping a listener on edge and in suspense – which is no doubt useful when creating long form pieces such as these. Then again, at around only 40 minutes, Home Diaries 029 is dwarfed by the almost three and a half release that Darkroom released last year! One thing I absolutely adore about Darkroom is the use of clarinets (contra bass and bass on last year’s The Noise Is Unrest, and bass clarinet on Home Diaries 029). I love hearing the bass clarinet in music, but I’ve never heard it quite like this before. And it works. It really, really works!

Nick Hudson, The Progressive Aspect
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TNIU on The Progressive Aspect

Timeless in construction and execution, the music presented here is not constrained by time or place, it just is. The finest ambient music never sounds dated, and The Noise Is Unrest will surely fall into that category. Only time will tell, that is, if it doesn’t run out first.

Roger Trenwith, The Progressive Aspect
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Edition 1

As to Darkroom, truth be told our favourite of the quartet, ‘holding on to the sun’ is one of those special moments you’d have expected to ghost flight into the spectral stillness of the night time airwaves of Radio 3’s ‘Mixing It’ broadcast and in to the bargain causing a fevered debate as to its merits by hosts Sandall and Russell.

Review for Edition 1 (compilation by Champion Version Editions) - full article here.

Eppyfest 2016

A complete left-turn with the next artists, Darkroom. Ostensibly a duo comprising guitarist/looper Michael Bearpark and bass clarinettist/synth man/sound whizz Andrew Ostler, for this show they were joined by Turkish guitarist and musical sculptor Hazal Elif Yalvaç. The ambient improvisational soundscapes created by the trio, across two lengthy pieces currently known as Side A and Side B (although the latter was referred to as Hospital Guy), were quite captivating from my seat in the centre of the hall and it was fascinating to watch their creative process at close hand, the music produced often bearing little resemblance to the instruments being wielded. Textural and unhurried, the pieces evolve with fragments of melody appearing, developing and then evaporating. A cleansing and thought provoking performance which I am glad to have had the opportunity to witness.

Jez Rowden, The Progressive Aspect
Original review here