Below Zero by Equal Stones

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Equal Stones | Below Zero
Glacial Movements (CD/DL)

Since 2012 Equal Stones (aka Dutch artist Amandus Schaap) has been conjured several releases, either self-released or via Ukranian label Hidden Vibes. Here he has found a new home, and a wider audience (including myself) on the always generously atmospheric Italian imprint Glacial Movements. Below Zero is, from the second the laser hits the disc, an enchanting permafrost scape in the traditions of Thomas Köner and Scanner’s Continuum (from the Tribryd Installation Soundtracks). The track Presence offers crackling surfaces like ice changing in density due to thermal shifting, a frozen wind whipping through manmade spaces along the shoreline. The listener might even do a double-take to see if they can see the form of their breath in the air.

A Circadian Rhythm: Schaap creates an impressive, tangible sense of forbidden place that is desolate and ominous. The deeply drone drenched Terretorial Dominion purrs with multiple layers that crinkle with hiss and rev like a jet motor – creating its own navigational zone, an expanse at the edge of a landmass in the middle of nowhere. As the record delves deeper into these unfamiliar edges of unchartered territory the quietude of Howling Fjord takes over with monophasic phase of this trippy inward journey.

Judge This By Its Cover: A Fire Long Extinguished is stunning in its minimalism, in its sense of wake pattern. Outstretched guitar mutations and warped so mildly as to not disturb the repetitive, floating rhythm. As for its title I guess you can say this one certainly smoulders away for just about ten minutes, and I could imagine a weekday siesta to this work on repeat. Just then Equal Stones begins his descent with Fragmented Ice, the finale which runs for a lush sixteen plus minutes. At first it sounds as if propane is being applied to a surface, that sound from which air balloons emerge, or a street food vendor is at full tilt. From there there are small eroding collisions at a moderate distance, and other effects that offer the most micro twists and turns to the setting which encroaches as a bit of a thriller in the making. I can easily picture the erosion of cascading mountains of ice as if this is a chilling soundtrack for a generation of millions effected by climate change.

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