What seems like an eternity ago, I contributed to Donnacha Costello's fundraising campaign to help him build an album focused on the EMS Synthi - an instrument he had been on the waiting list for 13 years. Despite the overwhelming success of the campaign, Donnacha purchased the Buchla Music Easel instead of the more expensive EMS, but that didn't effect the amazing output which has recently seen the light of day on his latest ambient album, Love From Dust.
Minimalism, perfected, Love From Dust is a set of warm analog tones, textures and slowly developing pieces that epitomise the vintage sound the synthesizer's creator would have dream't of. This isn't an experimental take on the synth's capabilities; instead, it's a demonstration of a rare, sought after instrument at the hands of one of it's finest handlers, where all tracks were recorded as live direct to 2-track, with no overdubs or looping. Donnacha's ambient work on his album Together Is The New Alone is testament to his minimal and melodic take on ambient music, and the Buchla Music Easel has enabled Donnacha to take us to even newer places.
His intentions are clear from the very beginning, teasing out a beautiful bouncing melody on Niigata Moment; the warm sound of the synth easing you into the record. Donnacha then dives deeper with my favourite track, Ten Ton. Simple layers build across ten minutes, cascading into a fuzzy drone, demonstrating the elegant, yet raw power of the synthesizer at hand.
Like the beginning of a sci-fi movie, Asteroid twinkles with mystery with an ominous undercurrent slowly appearing. The beauty of this once far away light, now quickly descending and appearing closer by the second, jarring against the uneasy orchestra that narrates its fall from grace.
A vivid blinking of lights in Klar picks up the pace, demonstrating subtle changes in tone you'd normally hear underpinning a glowing techno track, helping you picture the Buchla Music Easel at work as Donnacha peers over his instrument, fine-tuning and iterating one button at a time.
Farewell, another favourite of mine, enjoys tones of space ambient we've come to find from the likes of Stellardrone, until the magic of the synthesizer comes to the foreground - a pulsating muddy drone juxtaposes the sparkling, elegant swirls that rise above it.
Donnacha has always been one to find enjoyable melodies in his ambient works, and he's also one for subtle chord changes across expansive, yet minimal landscapes. This approach comes to fruition in Everything Is Going To Be, as a warping melody slowly degrades over 11-minutes.
And finally, Unconditional, like a more subdued brother of the opening track, Niigata Moment; the slow rolling synth lulls your eyelids to a close - a perfect book-end to an exemplary album, and one of Donnacha's finest ambient productions yet.
Read more on Donnacha here, where I dive into some of my favourite tracks from his esteemed Color Series.