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London, 2018 

A Spot on the Hill is the latest musical project of American composer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Cook. His debut album—The Tenth Wave—comprises humble musical pieces featuring a carefully chosen instrumentation that revolves around the piano and the guitar, as well as the violin and diverse sound effects intended to enhance the listener’s musical journey. The Tenth Wave is a display of Cook’s ability at writing fragile and delicate soundscapes.


Most pieces fall in the Contemporary Classical/Ambient genre, such as Trust Fall 2.0, a haunting piece for piano and strings; Repeat After Me which alternates between a disco-based bass line and a contrasting slap-back polyrhythmic melody; and the Tenth Wave which surprises by the inclusion of marching drums halfway through the piece. Some pieces are more contemplative, Three Minutes Hate—and its sensitive strings—, A Time to Heal—with what seems to be an Ebow on acoustic guitar—,or What If I Was Wrong that closes the album on a sustained note over lamenting—but oddly optimistic—piano chords. All of the pieces have a well defined instrumentation of piano (on the edge of honky-tonk sounding), Piano Cannon; guitar (and six-string ostinating motifs), What’s Gone Burns; or wheeling sound effects in Fourth Floor Drone. Finally, the Glass Ship seems to be a hidden homage to Philip Glass, featuring some of its signature compositional devices, from the chord progression to its triadic right-hand patterns.


The Tenth Wave is a very good first project for A Spot on the Hill, and really reflects the DIY quality and personal intention of the artist. Each piece has its own particular characteristic and musical interest, and it is easy for the listener to understand where Cook comes from musically. An interesting addition for future releases would be the inclusion of contrasting pieces that would vary and display a broader range of tempi, moods and ambiances.

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