Friday, March 14, 2008

Soundician: Still

Still: the latest album from the team at Soundician (odette and kit johnson) continues their ambient journey which has been traced in &etc. Those who have been following will know that Soundician tread that fine, hard to distinguish line between ambience and new age: perhaps a non-existant line but definitely a snob-divider. For me new age tends towards anodyne, facile and overly familiar. In my ambience I want some adventure, some difference, but am still happy to listen to basically beautiful music. And Soundician provide this.

We open quietly witha deep underpulse shaking the speakers, a very dark Soundician opening, light buzzles spiraling out, whooshes and a slow high tone melody. Across this spacey piece are intriguing clicks, an unusual addition. Ambient titles are very subjective - this track which seems to rise and grow is entitled Falling. Over the layered washes of Malachite sea a slightly atonal accordion plays a melancholic melody (and which draws line in the depths of my musicl memory with some Eno from Another Day, I think), while brooding drift of piano, bass and choir offer a beautiful Myrtle. On an album where the ambience of Eno and co are an reference point, Pearl billows with tones over a deep undertone, tuned percussion and piano delivering an attractive cold simplicity. Seagrass appropriately includes subtle atmospheric washes that swell towards the end, harp arpeggios and an Eastern influenced plucked string instrument. Among the accents that add that certain something to these tracks is a backwards sounding schwagger that skitters through the voices and whistling tones of Seal - a track which (together with the closing Tundra) reminded me of the scenes created by The Resident's Eskimo album.

Showing how close they can get to new age, Seashell would be quite comfortable down at the local shi-atsu massage centre, voice washes, harp and venting wooshes but we are immediately regrabbed by Stasis with an echo-degraded tom loop, key chord pulses and snare brushes that creates a disconcerting mood. More static than Stasis was, Tide is a picture of sounds-whips, twinkles, paper rustles and riffs in a lovely display. And finally Tundra, starting quite subaquatic with submerged tones, dolphinish calls, washes that all builds as voice like sounds intrude to create that eskimo-like quality.

So again, an album of beauty, subtle complexity and that intriguing quality that makes an instrumental album draw you in and listen to it, rather than let it wash over you. Soundician continue to explore and grow into that ambient sphere of their own creation.

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