Danny Clay – Ocean Park (Laaps, 2020)

I don’t want to be here anymore.

The house is a cage, an arena that confines thought and inhibits the imagination, stifles the senses and relegates the world to an untouchable otherness. I’ve been reading about the Hebrides recently, of its many islands and storied history, and have found my heart yearning again for the distant freedom that the Scottish Isles brings me. World circumstances dictate, of course, that this be but a dream for now, and that I must remain in promissory limbo.

There’s a moment in “Ocean Park II” where the first two-thirds, filled such as they are with stuttering vinyl pops and loops and stringed sustains, give way. Those early movements, suffused with an almost unplaceable expression of form, whose violin and viola occasionally stray into territories of upwelling lightness with almost accidental force, are dropped quickly away. It’s all replaced by beatific, cinematic swells of drone, peppered lightly with a soft cassette fuzz.

It happens suddenly, gears changing from static uncertainty to fluidic motion with effortless grace, and as I close my eyes I see the landforms I crave coming out of the gloom of my mind’s eye. Familiar coastlines emerge, glens and mountains materialise as if by magic, and the ground comes to within an inch of solidifying beneath my feet.

It is but a dream.

Toyboxes and tinklings fade in to supplant the quiet ache of the drones, naive and innocent sprinklings of delicate sound that separate the real from the imagined, yet keep the sense of desire alive in their closing display. Before I know it the album’s over and the four walls descend again to shut out the space beyond, but the afterglow remains, and I hold on to that scrap of promise that is my ticket of freedom.