REVIEW: “half life” – the immersive and entrancing debut album by Catherine Fearns

“half life” is Catherine Fearns’ debut album, and was released on January 21st by the Italian label Blue Spiral Records.

Riding the rising wave of neo-classical artists currently infiltrating an ever-growing public consciousness is pianist and composer Catherine Fearns.

 

Catherine Fearns is a British composer living in Switzerland. As keyboardist and guitarist for acclaimed all-female heavy metal band Chaos Rising, she is a busy songwriter in the field of extreme music. However she is also a classically-trained pianist, with a fascination for the surprisingly close links between classical and metal music. In exploring these links, she has developed a unique and exciting style of composition. Catherine is also an award-winning novelist, and for her, writing and composing are all part of the same storytelling process. “half life” is an album for solo piano that explores the full potential of the instrument. Inspired by motherhood, nostalgia, and the passing of time, these twelve cinematic pieces are dreamlike yet structured, impossibly modern yet based on classical forms.

 

Her album is ambitious and experimental, not so much songs as scored moods and sketches of dreams. Subtle and simply delicious for the ears, “half life” brings the listener into the world of Catherine Fearns classical side. Her modern approach to music makes this album a classical album with a twist.
The tone and the simplicity and the subtle melancholy of these pieces make “half life” a magnificent piece of art. Its tracks are beautiful storms for restless times.
There’s a gorgeously somnambulant yet softly romantic feel to these songs, and it benefits from masterfully subtle arrangement touches.

With each listen you uncover another facet not just of of this complex and charming album, but of yourself too. All the songs are so masterfully constructed and the mood throughout so consistent that the key complaint must be that it has to inevitably come to an end; a sure-fire sign that an album is doing something right. The album varies between affecting and emotionally resonant straightforward pieces, and at times moments that increase the level of abstraction and repetition into minimalism.
A treasure trove of interesting musical ideas, as well as a source of transportive, restorative solace. The warm homeliness drifts into untethered territory.
“half life” is a magical union of nature and creativity, a space where the mind can open, and do so with transportive beauty. Evocative and enriching, this album is a faultless work, immersive and entrancing, a palpable step forward from a versatile, ambitious artist. Music best experienced as the sun drops below the horizon.

 

Tracklist:

  1. children
  2. desire paths
  3. cyclades
  4. l’arve
  5. someone to kill for
  6. half life
  7. fluid dynamics
  8. postindustrial
  9. salvage
  10. wedding grave
  11. to the core
  12. hymnal

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