22 Layers - Isotope

(CD 2021, 55:33, Sunn Creative SUNNC2102)

The tracks:
  1- Soundtrack And The Score(5:17)
  2- Blue Sky Volcano(4:39)
  3- Equinox(6:28)
  4- The Sun Is Going Down(5:58)
  5- Purple Aniseed(5:03)
  6- Invisible Threads(5:05)
  7- Hello Algorithm(4:42)
  8- Travelling Alone(5:06)
  9- Isotope(8:37)

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22 Layers is a collaboration between Liverpool musician Peter Coyle (lyrics, vocals), who first achieved fame in the 80s with The Lotus Eaters and ESP Project's multi instrumentalist, Tony Lowe (music and everything else).

Despite early commercial success Coyle has favoured artistic integrity, pursuing artistic collaborations with artists as diverse as Susannah Hoffs (The Bangles) and Martyn Ware (Human League, Heaven 17) as well as extensive forays into Liverpool's dance music scene. Citing influences from Peter Gabriel to Peter Hammill by way of Bjork, you sense he has an ear for a certain type of originality and so it proves on this absolutely entrancing album. Coyle's voice has a pure and wistful quality, and Lowe has composed perfect accompaniments. This is music to luxuriate in, sonically and lyrically. Blue Sky Volcano wraps you in sonic furs (faux of course) and The Sun Is Going Down weaves its own sinuous embrace. Even the titles paint a picture. It seems invidious to even try to select tracks for comment on this album, such are its opulent charms. Even the grind and grit of Purple Aniseed displays the sleazy naked charms of the confessional, while Coyle's voice hovers fragile as a china egg over Lowe's heavy riffing on Hello Algorithm which surprises with its sudden catchy hook lines and stylish keyboard fills. The title track, also the longest closes out the album, a complex, ambitious multi-layered piece ensuring the collection ends on a deserved high.

22 Layers have produced a stunning collection of songs, opulent in arrangement, lyrically intelligent, artistic without losing sight of a pop sensibility, wistful and achingly melodic. It's a triumphant collaboration between these two musicians and one that deserves all the accolades being given to it.

***** Andrew Cottrell

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