The prolific experimental sound artist Robin Storey has been concocting ambient and other sounds since way back in 1980 when he was a founding member of :zoviet*france: On his own he’s released a vast trove of such breadth that it’s often hard to keep up with, though the latest on the Dutch imprint Winter-Light Ihis third for the label) is one of the more stylish in recent years. Offworld OP1 Equs: Mercury Rising II is a mouthful title, but is the second part of The Mercury Rising Trilogy, a series that celebrates his 25th Silver Anniversary. Space synths and magic crystals ensue…
Opening with a cyclical piano riff and stretched chant, this is something different, yet familiar. The artist has always dabbled with tribal world musics, but here on Through Glass And Clouds you can hear (perhaps) weary and distorted bagpipes over the repeating keyboard and indiscernible vocal treatments. The space exploration lead-in begins with A Sun Shines Into … a sparse and illuminated ambient work effortlessly drifting into the ether of We Beat Our Drums, where Storey does just that. Abstract ambient with an asymmetrical echo beat.
The track drifts and separates with transparent layers and a melodic bright melody that continues on The Crystals Form Along The Edge. Here, the added bouncy percussion only barely resembles the work he put out on Staalplaat and Soleilmoon, yet continues his sonic exploration in a new way. The voices are efficaciously edited and manipulated to counter the lighter crystalline synth tones and rumbling reverberation. This track brings with it a renewed signature style, one refusing to be categorized or packaged, a true artist at work and offering a double take on your personal expectations. This is an extremely active listening experience as the atmospheres continually change, evolve, dissolve, and otherwise shape-shift throughout. This is no more exemplified than on The Procession Of Flowers, which is a bit of an elongated chant. In a meandering mantra with electronic flute and earthy drumming elements the dimensions melt into a backing drone only to allow the half-hummed non-syllabic vocal to rise/fall into the layers of trance-induced avant jazz.
The whirring A Sequence Of Lights, We Travel In Darkness is a metaphysical send-off shaded in warm campfire-like textures. The low roar keeps an otherwise celestial passage somewhat grounded. This is until the eighteen-minute finale, An Aria And Whispers Bells Tolls On Moons starts its rotation. Operatic soprano samples punctuate the space and are woven into the exquisite mechanics of drone and mystery. Horns circle in a fabricated gray area vortex of whispers. It just churns and revolves. Lots of light spill from the half-lit passageway created in a flow of dreamy melodic tone that seemingly suspends time and space. Chalk it up to the wisdom of the galactic power of the moon(s).