Stanleystanley is the recording project of Jordan Russell-Hall who hails from Edinburgh. His repertoire centers on brief, electronically laden compositions that bleed into the ambient genre. Beside Myself is his newest EP and it contains five very personal tracks for the composer. Moving from themes of difficulties in life’s moments to introspective aural story-telling, Russell-Hall evokes an ambient feel that is laden with 80’s soundtrack tones and melodies.
“Palace of Steam” rises as a synth lays the foundation for strings that slide from right to left and back again, panning and giving the piece depth. Retro synths dance across the soundscape and then they all fade into a mist of dreamy, ethereal drones. This moves into an energetic, almost xylophone tone that utilizes tempo to change atmosphere and really give the listener a feel for movement. Sci-fi tones begin to rise ala Stranger Things. This is a hopeful moment, refreshing and bright. “You’ve Come This Far” evokes a gorgeous forest after a rainfall as the morning sun peers between the trees. Slightly fuzzy tones scan the sonic horizon and then vocal synths and a wind rise up to intro a melody. The very brief track is cinematic and feels large in scale.
“Sung from a Different Hymn Sheet” has a downtrodden organ sound that is accompanied by beautiful strings plucked and patterned to be a foil. Sci-fi synths one again join this gorgeous melody that just keeps rising to a momentous crescendo and then there is a stillness. A river of deep aural tones undergird rising, slightly mechanical voices. “Today Was Too Much” has a sort of ping-pong ball tone bouncing about laden in reverb while mournful, or at least thoughtful, chords play in their midst. Layers slowly fill out the soundscape as this beautifully brief track moves towards its end all too soon. “Beside Myself (and Looking In)” is a track Russell-Hall says he composed about his experiences in social interactions where he feels like he is a spectator to the conversations rather than a participant. Dreamy and, rather than disconnected feeling, it has a tenor of longing or desire, perhaps to be fully engaged rather than observing. There are some gorgeous choices for synth voices here as well as some more organic feeling sounds.
Beside Myself is a beautifully composed and executed biographical and personal EP by Stanleystanley. With a stunning ability to compose simple moments with huge, dense crescendos, each movement in the EP conveys a particular mood and sometimes various moods throughout a singular track. Out July 26th on The Ambient Zone, I highly recommend you pick up a copy.