Ishmael Ensemble is the Bristol based project of multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ Pete Cunningham.The core member of the band are Holysseus Fly (Vocals and Piano), Stephen Mullins (Guitar), Jake Spurgeon (Modular Synth, Synth Bass), Rory O’Gorman (Drums, Percussion). We introduced them with the first full-lenght A State of Flow.
Now they have announced the release of a new album called Visions of Light which will be out on August 6th via Severn Songs. According to the press release, it tells the story of Ishmael Ensemble’s development across its two sides. The first draws from the energy Cunningham and his bandmates discovered whilst extensively touring A State Of Flow.
The album opens with a cascade of harp glissandos and the gorgeous ‘Feather’ – Holysseus Fly’s lush vocal lulling the listener into a false sense of security, before her voice is warped beyond recognition in the high-octane, cacophonous ‘Wax Werk’. The tracks that follow take a darker, heavier turn. The driving, uninhibited performances of Stephen Mullins (guitar) and Rory O’Gorman (drums), along with Jake Spurgeon’s agile synth work, lay the foundation for Cunningham to deliver his most confident and direct saxophone performances to date.
Side B sees Cunningham settle into his role as producer and collaborator, resetting the scene with the vivid and playful ‘Looking Glass’, inviting vocalist, harpist and strings arranger STANLAEY to take centre stage. The landscape shifts again for the movingly nostalgic ‘Morning Chorus’, whilst ‘The Gift’ sees the angelic vocals of Tiny Chapter (Waldo’s Gift) initiate a dizzying crescendo of swirling synthesisers and string arrangements. When Visions Of Light resolves with the gorgeous slow-burner ‘January’, it is with an unmistakable hopefulness – something that, in these times of disquietude, is urgently felt.
“Wax Werk” is the first excerpt. Listen below.