Simon Scott | Soundings
This is as if I have really begun to hear the work of Simon Scott for the very first time – even after listening to his work over a good part of the 2010’s, since Below Sea Level (12K, 2012). Soundings (out on 2/22) is a different approach to flash-fusing field recordings and electronic music, both sensitive and flowy, without bearing into invisibility. For many an artist who creates layered ambient work, such is the problem of allowing work to wither away and far from memory. Soundings is deeply developed collection of nine shorter pieces that all folds into a nearly hour-long work of emotionally fatigued harmonies, the cassette version runs for nearly eight minutes longer for those with decks. The work materializes into something moody and narrative with drones and strings, electronics and sounds from his surroundings as he traveled.
While Hodos, Sakura and Santori all blended so aqueously together, Mae takes off in a slightly different path, one that has an unveiled industrial side. Scott recounted “I took a home recording I made of Storm Barney in Cambridge, listening to it on repeat when I was flying from continent to continent. I wanted this to be the starting point of the process of musically documenting how much traveling I was doing.” The listener will be grateful for his lengthy journeys given the stealthy result that offer both the tender and the vacillating psyche, documenting the experience in the US to Asia, South America to Europe and the Arctic Circle and back to the UK. Travel, in and of itself, can be draining to us all, and he’s managed to capture the passage, the road and the physical wear/tear to an extent.
There are purely harmonic moments of splendor throughout both Grace and Nigh, where Scott looks upwards toward the heavens, or perhaps recalls the act of dangling in the sky between destinations. It’s all warm and free. On Baaval the paler shades begin to darken at the edges and start to run rings. A sense of apprehension is palpable in this watery mix of bass drone and minimal harmonic mutation. From this bloated vibration comes the vague chirping of exotic birds at more than twenty paces.
This was the perfect staging for the daunting outcomes via Apricity, the final track here. The bass is super low, muted, almost white-noise like, however with each cycle Scott manages to add the lightest hint of stringed harmony, exquisitely played by Charlie Campagna & Zachary Paul. This fifteen-minute plus closer has ample time to indulge in the previously foreshadowed travelogue of foibles and faultlines, and does so in a way you might imagine to delivered by a full orchestra. There is a relentless spirit moving forward on this record, and though it uncovers some fairly expected sweet spots here and there, the man behind it manages to come from behind its many layers to demonstrate a realized vision.