James Batty ‎– Sanctuary (Overtones And Deviations)

Frozen Light ‎– FZL 041
CD, Album, Limited Edition, Numbered


1 Fantasia 4:06
2 Frontier 2:02
3 Reflexion 3:58
4 Giants 4:31
5 Microcosm 2:47
6 Below The Edge 1:45
7 Tree Rings 3:06
8 Hexes 5:05
9 Monarchy 4:20
10 Deviations 7:04
(Bonus Track, CD Only)
11 Balustrade 3:56

Companies, etc.



CD in jewel box with 8-page booklet.
Limited edition of 300 stamp-numbered copies.
"Balustrade" is CD only track.
Recorded at Lynchmob Studios, London. Tracks 1 and 10 recorded at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout: FZL 041 2016 James Batty "Sanctuary"
  • Matrix / Runout (Etched In Mould SID Code Area): ООО "Маркон" Лицензия МПТР России ВАФ №77-103

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February 18, 2018

Original: ConcreteWeb ( http://www.concreteweb.be/reviews/james-batty )

I had not heard of this guy before, but apparently James Batty is a multi-instrumentalist who lives and works in London. As from his youth, he’s fascinated by music and sound compositions, and he did some studies at the known Chetham School Of Music. During his studies, he was elected in a competition for the BBC, the Young Composer Competition, which he eventually did win. Throughout his career, he did quite some solo things, including improvisations, and he did work with a huge variety of famous musicians too. That, in short, is like a brief biography. I’m sure you’ll find much more on the .net…

In 2015 James started working on his first solo-album, for which he did write some material earlier that year. After finishing the main thing (at the Lynchmob Studio in London), he signed up with Frozen Light, a (fantastic) Russian label with a very varying yet satisfying roster. This recording got pressed in an edition of 300 copies. And what strikes me at first is the quite unusual artwork. But it does not seem to be that strange at all. James got influenced a lot by visual art, being paintings and movies. The cover, for example, was based on an artwork by Jo Baer, and besides this woman, James was inspired by some other movie makers and painters too while creating this album.

The album is quite a strange experience, for it is a mixture of traditional elements, like purely piano-based melodies, combined with electr(on)ic things. The opener Fantasia, for example, is a minimal melodious piece played on piano only, little thrilling / thrilled, yet leaving you hungry, like some sadistic climax denial. Haha, you didn’t see that coming, did you?... Frontier then again, which is quite a short track, is like a minimalistic soundscape, a Field Recording based creation that explores special territories. And that is somewhat the tone for the whole album. Piano melodies, sometimes sober, then again more uplifting, are combined with electro-acoustics and experimental sound-play in general. Sometimes it does work, but to my opinion it does not always reaches the level it is meant to get reached. It might be a subjective idea, but I got the impression that this guy has so many ideas, great ideas, but a lacking experience to wholly compose that what he has in mind. Initially it makes me hungry, but finally it leaves me unsatisfied. It does not mean that this stuff sucks – on the contrary, I am pretty sure that this material will satisfy a (probably limited) public. Yet then again, it seems quite bizarre 1) to have this project having a release on Frozen Light (yet then again: the FRZL.-crew did never eschew abnormal bands or releases), and 2) this form of avantgarde experimentalism is an enormous challenge to endure, despite the ‘light’ (or is it: enlightened / enlightening?) tone. I do understand, and sort of feel, the pure, cinematic and introspective, and even visual (yeah, open your mind to enter the artistic world of trans-observation), intentions translated by sonic expression. It’s like looking at paintings, which you do like or not, translated in aural frequencies.

The score has to do with my personal, and therefore subjective, appreciation for the Music, in balance with a more objective idea of what this stuff actually might connotate to connoisseurs of the genre.
Ivan Tibos.


May 10, 2016
edited over 2 years ago

Original: Nitestylez ( http://www.nitestylez.de/2016/06/james-batty-sanctuary-overtones-and.html )

Put out on the circuit in early May via the Russian imprint Frozen Light is "Sanctuary (Overtones And Deviations)", the debut album by London-based pianist and composer James Batty who, kinda bored out by the limitations of the western 12 tone scales, decided to enhance his natural instrument to explore and develop new scales and tonal structures which are - as the title suggests - influenced by overtones found in natural harmonies. Released as a limited edition of 300 copies worldwide the young composer covers a musical range from repetetive (Neo)Classical figures like the ones found in the opening tune "Fantasia" to short Ambient / Drone resembling passages in "Frontier" and even score'esque melancholia for rainy winter days served by the pretty much inward looking, minimalistic post-romanticism of "Reflexion" which has a kinda theatrical quality to it musically. In "Giants" we experience solemn late night vibes which meet experiments in modular synthesis soundwise, creating an atmosphere well suitable for late 60s black and white science-fiction or futurism-themed movies due to its tense, slightly brooding vibrato, "Microcosm" could well accompany educational slow motion recordings of cell division or viral replication, emphasizing on the fascination of as well as inherent danger lying within the process whilst "Below The Edge" comes across as fragile miniature dealing with nothing but the crystalline beauty of piano sound. The off-kilter tones of "Tree Rings" and their modulation in speed raise one's attention in a kind of alarming way, triggering instincts and announcing possible dangers, "Hexes" serves a more tentative exploration in sound which is, as most of the tracks featured on "Sanctuary (Overtones And Deviations)", not too far off from the natural piano although the slight alterations become more obvious in the tunes dramatic sequences, and "Monarchy" amalgamates buzzing Drone intensity and playful, elfish flute and violin harmonies fluttering through a deep and thick forest before "Deviations" sees a comeback of more theatrical composition and narrative techniques to conclude the album after roughly 40 minutes. As a bonus track owners of the CD version will find the additional "Balustrade" which starts off on a slightly percussive, alien ritual vibe before trailing off into knob twisting experimentalisms, theremin-resemblances and uneasy Deep Listening Music with a, again, score'esque and maybe even Radiophonic Workshop-influenced twist. Interesting stuff!