Personnel: Imogen Heap (vocals, programming, background vocals); Thomas Ermacora (vocals); Mark Taylor, Rachel Blackford, Jonathan Angwin (balloons).
Audio Mixer: Imogen Heap.
Recording information: A Room for London (12/09/2011); Australia (12/09/2011); Daomaoxiang Primary School (12/09/2011); Dushukurbao Newspaper Offices (12/09/2011); Edinburgh (12/09/2011); Essex (12/09/2011); Himalayas, Bhuton (12/09/2011); Hongzhou, Meander Tree Hotel (12/09/2011); Jarpur Music Shop (12/09/2011); Malmo Studios (12/09/2011); Paris (12/09/2011); Roundhouse, London (12/09/2011); Royal Albert Hall, London (12/09/2011); Southbank Center, London (12/09/2011); Ted Global, Edinburgh (12/09/2011); The Bedfords Park Walled Garden (12/09/2011); The Samode Palace, India (12/09/2011); The Sheldonian, Oxford (12/09/2011); Wales (12/09/2011); West Lake (12/09/2011); Y7 Bus (12/09/2011).
Illustrator: Cecilie Kamp.
Photographers: Andy Carne; Imogen Heap; Aurora Crowley; Alexander Goodman; Thomas Erroson; Roman L; Joup Van Der Velde; Jennifer Winter Torres; Gesha Zhu; Ene Fune.
Arranger: Imogen Heap.
Nearly three years in the making, Sparks is an ambitious concept album from Imogen Heap. Almost all of the 14 songs find their origin in short, brief aural snippets of found sounds, audio that is almost buried in the finished form on Sparks but nevertheless gives the album a skittish, otherworldly feeling. Often, the record dances on the far side of elliptical: not only are the rhythms simultaneously skeletal and elastic -- sometimes they barely seem to be there -- but the melodies aren't direct, so it takes a while for this album to sink in. Sometimes, it seems like a spacier, chillier counterpart to tUnE-yArDs; it's not as dense in its arrangements or allusions but it is cerebral and worldly, refusing to take a direct route when a detour will do. As such, it sometimes walks the line between close listening and a wash of sound, but it's intriguing from whatever angle it is approached. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine