SIGINT (Malignant; CD/DL)
Just out is the first release in eight years from False Mirror (Tobias Hornberger) in the hour plus deeply encoded SIGINT (short for Signals Intelligence) on Maryland-based Malignant Records. Opening with a wall of soft drone, electronic surveillance and an avalanche we are introduced to Perimeter. It’s stylishly cosmic with a molecular burnout along the edges and a quivering low end. If you cross-mutated a cicada with a flying saucer, the dark ambient hybrid would emerge. In fact, the tracks bloom into each other, I hardly noticed that Transmission had kicked into gear. With a slithery appeal, and layered, synthesized melody the understated balance between dark and light are only found in the obfuscated, translucent in-between. Antenna has a refined sense of separation, and a misty middle eastern feel by way of wind instrumentation and dramatic pause.
There’s a flow here that isn’t really divided by its parts whatsoever, in fact it is so skillfully mixed that there is no need for separate tracks at all. On Trajectory there are vocal treatments like melting chants that slips ever-slightly into Fallout, the most muted on the record, with a hint of campfire and some minor muffled samples. As the piece fades into a forced air fog, Corona opens up, slowly lit. As the track builds so do the added effects that sound like a passing train as it goes over a separation of track, but it’s so elusive, unless you are deep listening in a set of cans you will likely miss the moment. The volume increases and fades towards the end drawing out Leviathan into a nebulous haze. Hornberger employs multiple thin layers of smooth and unearthly tape edits and hollow bits atop one another to create a sound collage of an emerging beast, though without other intruders we bare witness to the unknown on their own turf. A conjuring of sorts. The final minute has nearly inaudible minor effects that are hauntingly intriguing, so keep your ears wide open.
Troposcatter is the beginning of the final trio of tracks that shift the mood into a more or less cavernous search for answers. The terms refers to microwave transmissions, which are more than simply eluded to here. False Mirror has created a record that truly conveys a 360° view of the beyond. By pairing the softer side of ambient with scanning transmissions and wavy synths along with a keen sense of climactic timing what emerges is nothing short of aural cinema. The ‘between-ness’ of Aether with it’s whispering wind ending is rightly fit as the conclusion Message is transmitted through a storm. Signals are broadcast over a continued raging weather system, in a digitized German voice repeating an alarm call to the end that leaves you hanging.