Dividenthal & Aumgn | The In Sound From Way Out!
Carpe Sonum Novum (CD/DL)
Nacht Plank and Ishq (aka Lee Norris, Matt Hillier) combine their collective talents on this ambient project under the moniker Dividenthal & Aumgn. released in a limited edition of 200 discs by Carpe Sonum Record’s sublabel Carpe Sonum Novum (since 2015). This is the duo’s fifth full-length in a single year! When I originally saw the cover that makes reference to both the Beastie Boys record of the same title (who riffed on Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley’s work in the decades prior) and Brian Eno/David Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts I did a double take. It sounds nothing like either.
Carrying the torch of the defunct Fax imprint, these gentlemen find a way to recontextualize classic ambient for the contemporary ear. They land upon a bit of a snake-charmer with Vackar, the album opener. It sounds to be sliding with synthetic harmony and a distant sense of cool. If you fused dub and a futuristic orchestration you start to get a little warm in describing their sound. Several of the tracks here run around ten minutes, with plenty of breathing room. Recorded in North Wales, it’s a sound you can stare into.
Helmholtz brings in the sound of a metal detector and a quasi (yet muted) samba feel. It’s a culture clash. The recessed atmosphere continues to play out with buoyant synths and mysterious tones that can potentially be connected back to either/or the soundtrack for Liquid Sky as well as Turkish melodies (with some early Gary Numan for good measure). It’s like some mystical Pandora’s Box has been detonated, but somehow they have managed to massage it into the down low of subconsciousness. You experience the bells and whistles (as knobs and wires) going off on Max Kohl.
With a touch more funk comes Con18, and this seems like a rightful bubble cast from the artists’ earlier work within their own solo work. With the flighty introduction of woodwinds and dialed back sci-fi effects this breaks into and out of some of the taboos from both new age and soft jazz in one bite — all while embodying a certain chill-out temperment. It’s pretty frothy. The wax/wane electronics of Buchla swoops in with a weary percussion that mimics surround-sound with its modular imprint. The short track seems to revolve in the space where its broadcast like pure aeration swirling in mid air.
In the end the two sound sculptors marginally upend the proceedings with the moody MkII Telharmonium. The liquid sound is mysterious, a bit more brutalist, and altogether about its sluggish pace vs. the urge of the beat. There is something craving, needy and wanton in the mix but its far too obfuscated to make out the message. That said it reminds me of sloughing yourself awake, out of a dream that seems in opposition. In all, this is a record that will engage both those who tinker with gadgetry (parts and pieces) as well as folk with a refined palette for hybrids that moderate between the peculiarly warm and the most languid of ambient textures.