Edge of Human is the latest release by Bekki Williams. It’s on UK’s AD Music label, which focuses on melodic electronic music, and is also home to David Wright, Robert Fox, Code Indigo, Richard Bone and others. Edge of Human, previously known as Monolith, is Williams’ fourth studio album, though it was originally recorded in 2001. The music on Edge of Human is symphonic electronica/new age music, with an emphasis on broad romantic melodies.
While the music is primarily electronic, Williams uses a lot of imitative synthesis. At its best, this gives the music a massive orchestral sense. On tracks like Where Worlds Collide, Williams makes effective use of percussion, virtual strings & choir to create powerful virtual orchestrations. In addition, Williams uses flute and guitar to expand her palette and give her arrangements more of a live feel.
The album makes a lot of stylistic jumps, which might make it feel disjointed to some, but that also showcase Williams’ range. For example, Ever-Changing Calm leaves the world of orchestral electronica behind and takes the CD into more of a dance electronica territory. The track features a driving pace, percussion that dances from the left channel to the right, steady four on the floor kick and a collage of synth sequences. It’s a fun mix of later Berlin-school synth music and trance music.
On a few tracks, Williams uses sampled virtual orchestral instruments for solos. These tracks are less effective, because virtual wind and brass instruments tend to sound cheesy when used as replacements for real instruments. It’s difficult to reproduce the expression and lyricism that a good player brings to these instruments when playing virtual imitations. On Amber Dawn, Williams uses a sound palette that sometimes sounds like an imitation of an orchestra, rather than either a traditional orchestra or an electronic orchestra. The climax of the piece is rousing symphonic electronica, but in the quieter sections, Williams lyrical melodies would have been better served by either bringing in some traditional instrumentalists or by using purely electronic sounds expressively.
Edge of Human demonstrates Williams’ strengths in several styles, and features several great tracks. The best tracks on the album are very good, but the fact that the CD jumps from style to style and a presence of a few weaker tracks give the CD a bit of a disjointed feeling.
- Amber Dawn (Twilight Mix)
- First Light (The Awakening)
- Where Times Collide
- The Azmara Variations
- Ever-Changing Calm
- Xanthe’s Garden
- The Human Edge
- Amber Dawn (Original)