Remember when James Chapman, nominated for a Mercury Prize with 2007’s We Can Create, was considered a bedroom artist?

Well, the first thing one notices about his fourth studio album (after Turning The Mind and Vicissitude) is how richly arranged it is. Brussels’ Echo Collective are everywhere – with violins, violas, trombones, a cello and a harp – and there are even three additional vocalists.

Nonetheless, the last thing one notices is how little of it lingers in the mind. Songs literally blur together, and none more than Wildfire and Just Reflecting, which move at the same pace, in the same key, with similarly descending musical themes. If they weren’t separated by the latter’s brief, semi-ambient introduction, one would struggle to tell
them apart.

Still, in Both Sides there are echoes of an (albeit analogue) M83, while Sophia’s brass adds a golden hue to its hazy shoegazing, and You Exist In Everything’s sweeping strings hurry it along towards its climax. Consequently, to marvel at Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’s stately grandeur, and to indulge in its rich textures, is definitely easy. But, though it’s a record to enjoy in the moment, its pleasures are short-lived.

As Chapman sings on The Plans We Made, “There was so much more that I could do.”



Wyndham Wallace


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