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Review of In Reflection Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 January 1987

A nice review of In Reflection, calling is an "enchanting, human record."

Unknown Australian Source

Note: The author repeatedly calls the album “On Reflection” by mistake. The album is actually titled “In Reflection.”


A no frills approach

by Stephen Andrews

On Reflection

One of the more positive aspects of the new technology is that electronic instruments and recording gear is now within the reach of most people.

Technology is one of the few commodities in our economy that has actually become better and cheaper over time. Today for a few hundred dollars anyone can set up a home recording studio and record music of a high technical standard.

It may not be the quality of a professional studio, but the end result can compare favourably with many pre-recorded cassettes and album pressings released commercially.

Church guitarist Marty Willson-Piper used a home recording 4-track setup. On Reflection, his debut solo album, is a wonderful collection of handspun songs recorded on a TEAC A3440. Included with the record is a booklet explaining the motives, stories and techniques behind the music. In this booklet, Willson-Piper sums up the philosophy behind releasing this record when he says:

“I hope this album will convince people that great music is not big-money or big-promotion or big-studios, but a special feeling that, I believe, this record has captured.”

That ‘special feeling’ is on this disc. It is a very human record that pulls you in gently rather than reaching out to grab you. After I listened a few times, the predominant adjective in my thoughts about this album was ‘warm.’

This is not to say the sound quality is woolly! This is a high class, low-tech recording. In fact, Willson-Piper often gets his most effective sounds in a very primitive way.

During the recording of “Art Is On The Run” [another error: track is actually “Art On The Run”] he tried to find an interesting snare drum sound to accompany his rather tinny drum machine. He used biscuit tin lids, pans, and wastepaper baskets before he ‘hit’ upon the “perfect thing... the Sydney Morning Herald.” Should you buy a record of a man hitting the Sydney Morning Herald? Yes, because it sounds great! Four-track fiddlers will also chuckle at the gymnastics involved in the recording of “How Come They Don’t Touch The Ground.”

Many of these songs remind me of early Pink Floyd in the late 1960s. They contain many nonsensical and surreal images and the music has psychedelic overtones in it. On “Velvet Fuselage” he sings, “Looking on a thousand garments worn by priests on summer days/Shallow pools of milky summer ripple past in different ways.” Underneath, a space-echoed 12-string Rickenbacker plays a cyclic chord progression within a looping beat and simple harmony vocals.

This is a very personal statement, and although not a confessional type record, I often felt I was hearing somebody’s diary. But while that sort of thing can be very excluding and difficult to get into, On Reflection is a very welcoming album. The last page of the booklet says, “I hope you can concentrate on the things that give this record its personality and not let the flaws detract from what I’ve wanted to communicate.”

This says a lot about the record and is also what makes it different to almost everything else around at this time. Most Top 40 records don’t have ‘flaws’ and because of this, I think they lack ‘personality’.

Maybe with four-track machines appearing like rabbits these sort of records will start to put some life and soul back into modern music. This is an example of what hopefully will become a musical trend in this, so far, largely sterile decade. On Reflection is an enchanting, human record.


Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

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