Ian William Craig – Cradle For The Wanting (Recital, 2015)


The human body is an incredible machine, Craig seems to want to explain to us in his latest effort Cradle For The Wanting, a walking bag of bones and flesh, differentiated organs and tissues controlled by a governing brain that directs us and motivates us to eat and drink and sleep, to sustain ourselves and find some way to proliferate life even beyond death within our offspring. All of these sentiments of existential thought, the nature of being and particularly the insemination of new life, are packaged in the wholly vocally produced passages of this record, with Craig populating every square inch with his vocal cords, processed or otherwise.

It’s a story really, of the decision to bring somebody new into the world and the emotional tumult that accompanies such a decision, passing from uncertainties to hopeful leanings and anxious excitement; it’s the earliest tracks here that seem the most hesitant and of all here, for obvious reasons. Opener “Doubtshapes” remains somewhat innocent as it casts sensual and fluidic motions out through soft waves and crinkling distortions, this seamless blending of two bodies into one that gazes lovingly and earnestly at the imperfections within the beauty before it, hymnal and primitivistic in its presentation, raw. But it lurches violently into the dubious and fearful changes of “Habit Worn and Wandering”, dragging down with a nagging sense of imminent and violent change to the coarse and tired habitual nature of its existence. These established oscillations degrade and melt away, collapsing into a molten and dynamic sea of uncertainty, a future of infinite questions and possibilities.

Notions of the fearful power that lies within the hands of the creators is referenced in the interior pieces, with the growling anxiety and stresses of “Empty, Circle, Tremble” nervous at the seeming ease at which we can give rise to new life and the influence we have over shaping such a thing, its fragmentary vocals and gossamer strands drifting towards the nervous possibility of failure and the mounting likelihood of imperfection within our little circle. “Glassblower” harbours different sentiments before it though, lost in cerebral motions of shimmering pattern, a personal reverie filled with light and a whispered intimacy you’ll find nowhere else. See how the glassblower brings life and shape and form to his creations with such ease and grace, the effortless, marvelous simplicity of it.

“Each All In Another All” has its own similar revelations as faint vestiges of voice linger swimmingly in the backfield whispering sweet nothings in the darkness as the music swells up in brash chaos around it; is this the brain talking to itself in the lonely darkness, the body’s thrumming complexities ticking away all around it, or is it the tiny, developing voice of a new body within the old, a whole fresh lifetime of experiences and thoughts growing in one with its own already? It’s up for debate. Indeed, what to make of “Shipbreaking” also, with its juxtaposed vocal lines casting a grey and placid ocean of mild thought sustaining the cooing, beckoning waves of more empowered but still mysterious thought to the shoreline. Are these grey and pastel tones deliberation emotional suspension, shielding itself from the fear of collapse, of our worst nightmare coming true as we lose our vessel and its precious cargo? Perhaps, or perhaps it’s the notion of a body and mind creeping into decrepitude, of the need for new ships to sail their own lives as ours begins to drift out further into the unknowable abyss and beyond.

But its time finally arrives as “Grace in Expectation” marks the beginning of the end of our existential introspections and worries, losing itself in tersely excitable reveries of hymnal origin once more, spiralling into crescendo as the critical moment dawns and finally, the intimate and loving sigh of relief and joy at its conclusion in waves of shattering, carefree exultation. It’s done, it’s over, it’s begun: we’re committed.

Whether you see this as I do or the bodily existentialism that Tiny Mix Tapes explores is I’m sure up for the listener to decide, but listen closely because this is like nothing else out there at the moment; the fact that so much is said whilst so much is tantalisingly left out is masterful, dangling us on tenterhooks of incompletely realised thought and splintered musing in the most humanly possible way. The voice is a powerful thing, especially in Craig’s hands, and I cannot wait to see where he turns his thoughtful eye and potent “songs” next.