“Behind the neo-classical ambient artist Antonymes we find Welshman Ian M. Hazeldine. Five years ago, we checked out his second album (and his first for the Hidden Shoal label), The Licence To Interpret Dreams which I called ‘a massive masterpiece’. Exactly five years later, he puts out his new, third album, (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly as both albums were launched on 21 April! In 2011, and now in 2016.
Hazeldine/Antonymes has been a productive composer/recorder since his 2009 debut, Beauty Becomes The Enemy Of The Future (by Cathedral Transmissions’ CD-r label). Just after The Licence To… he released the ‘single’ “Lost In Waves Of Light” (in May 2011), which was ‘created from elements lifted from The Licence To…’ and was said to be ‘a wonderful companion piece to the album’. The same month he put out the mini album Like Rumours Of Hushed Thunder, which held 7 pieces of music entitled/numbered/dated “251210” through “311210” (probably his ‘musical diary’ from the last days of year 2010…?). Later that year came a new EP called We Don’t Look Back For Very Long (2012), which was a quartet of reworked/retitled tracks by fellow Hidden Shoal artist Slow Dancing Society. In 2012 the single Light Dispersed (presenting two songs) appeared in February. Half a year later he launched a new album (his third), There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay in October.
When describing the music of Antonymes it is hard to avoid using words/terms like ‘magic’, ‘stunning’, ‘fragile’, and ‘beauty’. The first ‘single’ lifted from the new album was “Towards Tragedy and Dissolution” which is a song holding exactly that (fragility, magic) with its calm piano, cellos (James Banbury, formerly of The Auteurs), and violins (Christoph Berg, a.k.a. Field Rotation). When spinning through and drifting away to (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly, I can only say one word: wow! This is magical realism, but I’m not sure where the magic ends and the realism begins – or the other way around. If we twist the album title just a bit, we get Through a Glass Darkly (in Swedish: Såsom i en spegel) which was a 1961 film by Ingmar Bergman. ‘Through a glass, darkly’ is a Biblical phrase from 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see through a glass, darkly”, but two variants of the verse go like this:
1) ‘For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known’,
2) ‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.’
Well, ‘glass darkly’ has changed to ‘mirror dimly’, but I am not sure how important or strong the possible religious theme is for Antonymes. If we turn back to Bergman, he called his film a ‘chamber film’. Maybe (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly is a collection of chamber music, if there is such thing as ‘chamber ambient’…? And, while ‘in Sweden’ I would also mention the acclaimed Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johansson (1931-1968). Not that Antonymes play jazz. Well, at times small parts of (For Now We See)… do have a certain jazz feel (ambient jazz). What I want to say is: I sense some of the same vibe, or mood in the music of Hazeldine as I find in Johansson’s. Maybe it is just the piano mood in shades of blue…
(For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly holds ten pieces of music which (sometimes) makes my neck hair start raising, goose bumps appearing. The spellbinding, eerie magic is underlined by the spoken word poetry which suddenly appear: “Little Emblems of Eternity” holds words by British writer Paul Morley, presented/intoned by Jan van den Broeke (and Martine Bijn?). What makes (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly is…. air, lots of air, patience and relaxation, and silence. Enjoy Antonymes/Hazeldine’s magic silence. Antonymes never rush for the finishing line. This is minimalism done with perfection. Dimmed sounds/songs, maybe. The songs of (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly works in a most affectingly way. Hidden Shoal has described the songs on (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly to hold ‘emotional potency and compositional dexterity that surpasses the body of work that precedes them, drawing you into their evocative world and demanding engagement.’ Let Antonymes’ songs engage you – songs that are ‘transcending a superficially melancholy aesthetic to create something truly life-affirming.’ (Hidden Shoal). You’d better enjoy (For Now We See) Through A Glass Dimly.”