Sound: "Subtile, imaginative and intoxicatingly lovely" -- that is Leo Abrahams' first solo album "Honeytrap," according to BBC. According to the legends, Brian Eno discovered Abrahams when he happened to be in a music shop, where the guitarist was strumming away in the corner. Eno was so impressed by Abrahams' guitar skills that since that time released four albums in the collaboration with Leo. Except Eno's albums, Abrahams worked with David Holmes (appearing on Ocean Eleven's soundtrack), Ed Harcourt, Nick Cave, Mark Owen and many others. It's surprising how he found time in his tight schedule to record an album of his own. Most of the tracks were written on his laptop aboard the planes and trains and while waiting for the musicians outside the rehearsal rooms. The debut album consists of 14 tracks with lots of guitars, some ethnic percussion, cellos and trumpets. The more you listen to the album, the more revelations you make to yourself. One of the first would be that all the synths, the samples are layer upon layer of guitars. Then you would realize that what is supposed to be a drum part is played by something weird, that doesn't even remind somebody's skin, tighten on wood. As it turns out, those are ethnic drums.
Every track is like a poem without words and with instruments taking tunes instead of a voice. They evoke different memories, depending on your life experience. My favorite track on the album is "Honeytrap" -- it is sad, but with has a hope behind it. Listening to it, I have an image of someone, being far away from his/her loved one, looking through the pictures of them being happy together. "Playground" has two faces -- it shows its first one in the very beginning -- mellow, very calm and melancholic. Then, when drums come, you just wonder how this fussy drum beat fit so good into a slow melody and create a song with two moods. "Siren" with its heavy groove in my opinion would make a good soundtrack for '80s movie about robots. "Rise" is a wonderful song to wake up to. I always feel sorry if this kind of song is not the first one on the record -- I wake up to my CD player and when it stars making noise, searching for a track in the middle of the record, I wake up to that noise, instead of the song. The song pictures images of a sunrise near the waterfall in light pink, purple, yellow colors. Well, again, that's what I see in my mind, doesn't mean you're gonna see it. The album's luxurious sound leaves you with no doubt that Leo Abrahams is a very talented musician. All the songs are performed in a very nuanced manner. // 10
Lyrics: Can I just be quite? Avoiding dirty jokes that come to my head, when I think about this empty spot. // 8
Overall Impression: Leo Abrahams is called a "guitar experimentalist" and the debut album just proves that. That is a truly experimental record, but experiments are not about technique of playing guitar, like many other guitarists' solo works. This one is not about arpeggios and showing off exercises and is actually nice to listen to. He's not afraid to mix music styles and you can find on the album pierces of folk, ambience, classical, electronica and even world music. Abrahams is as interested both in musical structure and in texture.
The sleeve reflects the album's idea -- Abraham rejected recording techniques like sampling, sequencing extravaganza and computer-generated noises. He is opting for pure organic sound without electronic crap. To face it, there's a lovely doodle tree on the sleeve -- not too extravagant and doesn't attract much attention, saving all of it for music. Most of the songs would make a perfect background for anything -- movies, romantic night. You can dream to them, make love to them or read a story-tale to your child. Thus the tracks are not too expressive to hold your attention by themselves. Although Leo wants people "just to listen to it," every time I tried "just to listen to it," I found myself doing something else at the same time. You can enjoy the music, but there's nothing to fall in love with. // 8