Crepusculum (aka Fred Baty) released his debut, The Sky Diaries EP, back in 2006. It was a pretty enough release, blending deft and intricate acoustic guitar compositions with electronics and field recordings. If nothing else, it was evidence that Baty was someone to keep an eye on. And with Sing On In Silhouettes, Baty’s second release on 12rec and his first full-length, he has delivered in spades.
Simply put, Sing On In Silhouettes is a much more confident and mature release than The Sky Diaries EP. Not only are the songs more involved and complex, but Baty’s arrangements and songwriting display a considerable grace and organic restraint. On songs like “A Fledgling Firework” and “Early Days,” it sounds less like Baty labored over them in some studio, but rather, let the songs develop and evolve naturally — always a hallmark of a talented musician (and it’s especially impressive considering Baty’s young age).
“A Fledgling Firework” begins with pleasant acoustic strummings and slowly builds steam — graceful, airy electric guitar notes begin to soar above, like a cool spring breeze, while sparse piano notes and a chugging bassline anchor the piece sonically and emotionally.
“Early Days,” on the other hand, begins as one of the album’s more melancholy tracks, but the layers of guitarwork that slowly filter in transform the song into something that, if not upbeat, is at least more confident and assured — such that, when it transforms into something akin to a jig in its final moments, complete with accordion, brass, and shakers, it’s an entirely tasteful coda and not a jarring switch in tone.
Baty’s guitarwork is certainly covered in filigree — one need only to listen to the opening moments of “Reflected on Clouds” to hear his ornate fretwork in full effect — but it’s neither flashy nor gratuitous. Even when he breaks out an electric guitar for some quasi-soloing, as he does on “For Hannah” (the album’s most “epic” and involved song), it’s all well within the song’s established melodicism, and thus, only adds to its effortlessly achieved atmosphere.
Sing On In Silhouettes finds Baty largely eschewing the electronics that were part of The Sky Diaries EP, but they aren’t completely gone. Rather, they subtly color the album, adding to the tone when needed, as on the skybound “Wake Me With Whispers” with its airily looped guitars and glitchy denouement. They ultimately provide another layer to the music waiting to be peeled back by the listener, to be discovered after repeated listens.
Indeed, I’ve been listening to this album on a fairly regular basis since downloading it back in December of 2009, and my appreciation and estimation of it has only grown since then. Sing On In Silhouettes is one of those rare and delightful albums: an album for whom familiarity never becomes a curse, an album that feels and sounds newer and more refreshing to listen to the more you listen to it.