Following on from last year's heralded 'Killing Ghosts', as well as his most recent collaboration with Stijn Huwels as Silent Vigils, comes the latest long-player from James Murray. With a focus on childhood memories and the literal act of letting go, 'Falling Backwards' is his most personal release to date.
We were lucky enough to witness James performing elements of this new work earlier in the year as part of the Spectaculare Festival in Prague. As James quietly and carefully constructed his pieces to the hushed audience, I took myself to the large architectural installation below with models of buildings with night lights shining on this modern yet desolate dream. It was the most incredible experience to hear the music from 'Falling Backwards' disperse over the audience and down into this auditorium for my own perceived personal benefit. With its warbled tones and fractured melodies, I couldn't help but feel I was in the midst of an experience of pure science fiction; happily and playfully lost in some other world.
'Falling Backwards' is an album of incredible strength and hope, of personal tribulation and yet also triumph. It is a natural arc to the work of 'Killing Ghosts' as it breaks the barrier of things hidden and withdrawn, and shouts from the rooftops with its forceful awakening as the album evolves. It is an electronic masterpiece, yet I am hard-pressed to once again use the term 'ambient' here as it does not attempt to hide in the shadows. There is no meekness to James Murray's latest work, and I am so proud to see such a true artist and sound designer wear his heart on his sleeve, fiercely beat his chest, and say 'this is me, this is my song, and I will be unbowed'. - Words by Ian Hawgood
Notes by James Murray: When I was a child I would fall backwards, literally. If I felt life unfair or hadn't control of my world, instead of losing my temper I'd go still, silent, bolt upright, close my eyes and just let go. At home, in public, wherever, it didn't matter. Always backwards, vertical then inevitably, violently, not. After a few of these episodes the people in my life learnt to see the signs and usually someone would be there to catch me in time.
Recent scans investigating tinnitus discovered an infarct in the back of my brain. The cognitive effects of this damage are unclear, best guess as to cause is historic trauma. I'd all but forgotten those self-destructive childhood descents, but this surprise transported me back at once to those earliest, strongest feelings, to the bitter intensity of that which first mattered most. The long free fall through darkness, the outright surrender of the will, and the delicious anticipation of impact. It's strange isn't it, the things we do to cope.