Olan Mill is Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko and ‘Pine’ marks the first release for the two as collaborators. The album comprises ten instrumental pieces and between Smalley and Samoylenko we are treated to the sound of the piano, violin, pipe organ and guitar. Other sound sources may reveal themselves to the astute listener, but for the most part, ‘Pine’ is concerned with big, stirring sound palettes which belie the duo’s modest array of instruments.
Chief among the reasons for this grand, lush sound is the lavish approach to production taken by Olan Mill. Sounds are heavily dosed with slowly decaying reverb which gives an almost slow motion effect to proceedings. In stark contrast to the dirge-like soundscapes created by organ and guitar, muted violin phrases pick out startlingly beautiful melodies, the drones often giving way entirely to cascades of layered piano and violin.
‘Pine’ was recorded over several sessions on location inside a small church which lends a very human, almost tangible sound to the album. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Olan Mill are not obsessed with the notion of minimalism, neither is there any sense of the pieces having been planned or preconceived. As a result, the listening experience can be said to be natural in the truest sense of the word.
This first offering by Olan Mill is an unashamedly emotional and romantic body of work which, thanks to a certain restraint on the part of its creators, never becomes too self-conscious or introverted. This may be due in part to the short duration of many of the compositions, Olan Mill open windows into their world, but we’re never allowed to look too closely or for too long. As a result, you will find yourself coming back to this album time and again for those brief moments of indefinable beauty.