Nightshade Tom James Scott

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Tom James Scott holds a unique position in experimental music. With a soft brush approach Scott, who currently lives on the North-West coast of England, has explored delicacy in music with a variety of sublime releases on a variety of labels. Predominantly known for gentle investigations of guitar and piano, Scott has shifted to incorporating different technology and tactics over time. All of this, either in performance or recording, is embedded with a spirit that is quintessentially his own. Nightshade is the latest in his expanding catalogue, one which ignites an alarmingly new take on his approach to music. Echo on Water initiates proceedings with the unmistakable sound of tape. Any instrumentation is buried amongst the woozy sway of the medium itself, with its rough dynamics soon morphing into an overwhelmingly swirling mass of emotionally decayed sound. The movement of matter takes on a haunted shape with sounds looping and falling apart as the physicality of the medium holds it all together. The second track Blue Mist furthers this approach with its smeared haze of gorgeous emotion. This is deep exploration of ideas meeting matter. Wasting Stars takes up the entire flip side with the sound of tape recoiling a bit to allow the delicate glow of instruments to come more to the fore, with gentle effects that weave the musical matter. As a skewered take on Scott’s earlier piano explorations the atmosphere here is a subdued soundscape evoking the spiritual sadness found in the piano works of Gurdjieff/De Hartmann, with a modern lo fi angle. Nightshade is a deeply effective journey and one of the most exquisite examples of Scott’s delicate approach so far. Two sides of form which inhabit contrasting yet complimentary clouds of sound communicating in a stunning emotional flow. As music with only trace elements of melody, Nightshade is a beautiful take on tools being used to explore paths both highly idiosyncratic, deeply moving and discreetly personal.

ALT62 Released 1 September 2023