The below recordings are some recent surprises that afforded more than a first run-thru, which is fairly typical when engaged with as much sound as we are these days – and I am not complaining! Though through some rhyme, reason or rhythm these particular selections made it back into the cycle, so I thought to share some of my personal conclusions.
Barriere in Movimento is the latest release from Joachim Henn aka Perrache (Polytechnic Youth). From the first moment the white wax hits the diamond stylus the listener will be in this mesmerizing space, ala Logan’s Run, via Henn’s futuristic overdubs. These are just over forty minutes of surprising electronics that fall between the cracks of Stereolab and the sea of challenging retro prog meets ambient soundscape. It’s both meditative and progressively psychedelic with a ton of atmospheric reverb.
We featured the track Dustflag on episode five of our podcast, in which he distills the glow of flying orbs with the flair of some of the best of Pete Namlook and co. Elsewhere your ears stare toward space as you my not necessarily find yourself upright all too long. And even while A gondolier’s last chewing gum blues may be the deconstructed air-raid of your fleeting dreams, it’s obvious that it is fueled on a quasi surreal fantasy spiced with sonics. This continues through to the final breath of wiggly, bleeping melodies. The sleeve brought up references to the Smiths and early electronic reference records ala the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, etc.
Sydney-based musician/artist Alexandra Spence, who we recently reviewed has just put out Immaterial (Longform Editions). Here she contorts soundwaves into an ethereal state of flotation, transformation. As the timbre of reverb meanders in echo she includes both hazy, almost indistinguishable field recordings alongside Karen Yu’s graceful and minimalist percussion. Bird calls, trudging footsteps, crowd and merchant sounds and lots of intermediate domestic moments during a trip to China shopping for gongs.
And just before the midpoint of this singular work of about twenty-three minutes, she breaks into what sounds like prayers or spoken word poetry:
Hey (a name) tell me when you find it.
Buy in Yau Ma Tei where they sell that stuff.
…Yeah, yeah. Tomorrow, I’ll…
You do your search and I do mine. Now Kyun Kee said it was fine being a little bit short. It won’t be a problem if you tuck in the aluminium tube, otherwise it will be fucking ugly.
You do your search and I do mine. Whoever finds it makes a call, alright?
The light clang of a metal object leads you to eventually follow tones that change form. And the voices return, as do the squeak of shoes as though on a recently waxed racquetball court. For all the diversions within this piece Spence takes you on a fantastic sojourn of subconsciousness, lovingly mastered by A.F. Jones at Laminal Audio.
Next is Trepaneringsritualen‘s ᛉᛦ – Algir; eller Algir i Merkstave (Cold Spring). Mastered by Martin Bowes this ritualistic set includes two nineteen minute pieces, titled via symbology and infused with the purr of dark atmospheric shadows. This is an intimate conjuring of ambient work, perfectly timed for the season of All Hallows Eve, and all the spirits that may haunt one’s psyche this time of year. And it’s intensely low-end, ruminative, and ultimately sounds sublime from so many angles. I recommend this to anyone lucky enough to have a true surround system for one of the more intense listening experiences this year.
Though I can often be a naysayer of so-called dark ambient, as there are too many savagely bad examples floating in the recesses, this is one of those rare examples that gives the fledgling genre a new after/life. The drone is deep and of the essence, as a whole ᛦ is sustained by an intensive vaporous allure that swirls around the listener subliminally, almost dimensionally but without a defined shape, with the occasional pronounced moments of percussive punctuation. Deep, dark, and slightly disturbed.
Sort of continuing on the seasonal theme is, of course, Bones & Drones (Zoharum) from Uhushuhu (Pavel Dombrovskiy). The Russian composer’s atmospheric forty-four minute long work does give you the chills, as in, “you are getting verrrry sleeppppy…” In this light (or dark), the piece is almost calculatedly lucubratory to a fault. If you are all in on sleep concerts and the like, then gather your best pillow and rest un/comfortably to this ghost story. Dombrovskiy doesn’t seem particularly bent on creeping his listeners out, rather gently drawing them into a relaxed posture to permeate the air in pure dreamscape.
It’s a lethargically ravishing work that takes hold of any apprehensions over its stretched duration. As the waves invade the shore, as the billowy drone follows like fog, so do we begin to find it hard to determine if there is a subliminal effect or not. Distributed throughout are elusive field recordings, liquid loops and passing harmonies, together forming something quite endearing, and haunting. One can imagine countless scenes from movies, or from their own experience of intermediate memories of being by the ocean, never fully grasping the power of its great mass. Glacial, in a word.