There is not a doubt in my mind at the massive talent behind Nine Stones Close. Guitarist Ade Jones recorded the first NSC album in 2008 as a totally solo project. Since then he has collaborated with Riversea nucleus Brendan Eyre and Marc Atkinson as well as bassist Neil Quarrell releasing Traces in 2010. It is from the Traces album that three of the seven tracks on the Falling to pieces EP are taken. For the faithful, a Traces EP accompanied the album for all those who pre-ordered the album. It is from this EP that the re-recorded acoustic, version of Innersense Threads (rewoven) and Traces (reconstructed) are taken. Only two of the original tracks from the Traces album didn’t get the remix treatment “Reality Check” and “Thicker Than Water” at least that is on this occasion.
The title song of the new EP “Falling To Pieces” has been designated the Indian summer version and benefits from some different keyboard sounds which create an almost bolero effect adding a little drama over the original whilst the acoustic version of Innersense takes on an altogether lush openness when compared to the original. Marc Atkinson’s voice seems almost pleading whilst Ade Jones beautifully voiced acoustic guitar appears to chime in a semi percussive way. The revisions made to the originals again add new vigour giving the listener a choice and the option to form a preference.
“Threads (rewoven) is a re-working of an already excellent song. This provides an opportunity for those NSC fans that weren’t fortunate to receive the re-traced CD with the original album. Lyrically it is a fairly gloomy tale with Marc Atkinson taking on the role of balladeer lending a certain feel of despondency to the piece. Ade Jones nails the whole song to the wall with a shooting from the hip blues lick terminating this particular version much sooner than the original.
Traces (reconstructed) does beg the question “Why re-hash what was already a great track? Well, because they can! Today’s technology allows musicians to reconstruct, add, extract or change elements of recorded music much easier than in previous times. This allows them to paint in different colours and add new sounds and textures as and when they become available. This version of Traces dispenses with the guitar crescendo replaced instead by Brendan Eyre’s fine ear for texture and his superb perception of depth and breadth within the given soundstage. This piece majors on atmosphere with a great sense of timing, proving that sometimes less is more.
The reprise of the title track adopts a more natural piano sound than the more rounded and treated electronic tones of the opening gambit. A little more power and raw energy is added to the mix courtesy of Ade Jones playing a frantic guitar outing with aplomb. Marc Atkinson’s voice adds to the potency of an excellent musical collaboration.
The inclusion of very two very dark and eerie remixes of Threads make for a very interesting listen. These two remixes have been honed by friend of the band Michael Simons. The first of the two is Threads The Red Earth Mix. So dark that you may need a torch just to listen to it I can best describe it as ambient. Best appreciated via quality headphones it really grows on you. Whilst Threads Re-threaded rolls out a huge soundscape. I would happily recommend to followers of the band not in possession of the Re-traced EP to visit www.ninestonesclose.com and download themselves a copy of Falling To Pieces. At the time of this review a CD version of the EP was in production. I would be torn as to which version to recommend the most to be honest. The CD comes with artwork by the amazing Ed Unitsky whilst the download is available in both MP3 and high quality FLAC files. Whichever version is acquired I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed.
Falling To Pieces EP £5.99 from www.ninestonesclose.com