Released on January 1 is this digital split single between Japan’s Hidekazu Imashige aka Gallery Six and US artist Adam London aka Bedroom. Imashige has a large discography which includes collaborative or split artist releases and releases on labels such as Archives, Vent and Unknown Tone. London has now released two albums, “The Inner Pattern” (which was on my Best of 2018 list) and “Invisible Choirs”, both of which feature Brady Kendal aka Alaskan Tapes (whose artwork adorns this Ep).
“Collections of sound and texture that bring forth depictions of winter. Snow fall while looking out the window, crunching through untouched terrain, ice breaking on a frozen lake.“
With a theme such as winter it can conjure up many different ideas from an almost cleansing after autumn, to miserable coldness and lots of rain, all the way through to the delicate first batch of snow. Naturally with the northern hemisphere having winter around the Christmas season it can also bring in a whole array of other emotions. Both artists on this Ep offer different takes on the idea of winter.
Naturally when you have a release that is shared by artists, comparisons will be made. Both inhabit their own sonic sphere so you don’t get material that is too similar. With Gallery Six and his two tracks “Kirameku” and “Isolated” presents a slightly darker and more affected form of ambient. Field recordings run through the icy, submerged tones of “Kirameku” which roughly translates to the equivalents of shining, glare and gleam. Sounding like melodies that are trying to break through detritus, much like a mutated form of music that has been recorded on worn out cassette tapes, the muddiness adds a particular character to the music which may have been too sweet and pure otherwise. The way that it flickers lends to it a quality not to dissimilar to works that are centred around memory or nostalgia.
“Isolated” expands on some of the stylistic qualities of the previous track, like the submerged quality and field recordings, but sees the music reach further out with an ever-changing kaleidoscope of sound which slowly evolves from the field recordings into a wall of sound. If I am trying to take meaning from the title in regards to the sounds of the track, then it is probably a representation of the frustration of isolation. While it would be a stretch to use the term violent, there is a certain intensity in the tone of the piece that indicates disquiet and a build up of pent emotions.
Bedroom’s two tracks “Rime” and “Verglas” offer a different slice of ambient. Inspired by the oncoming winter when they were recorded, there is a glacial coldness that runs through the tracks. Like Imashige’ s music there is a submerged quality to London’s work, but one that is not obscured. The first track, the brief “Rime” has a light and airy feel that feels like a gentle storm slowly coming bringing with it a change, possibly in keeping with the winter theme of first snow. The music is full of melody and micro moments as well as guitar that gently rings out with contemplative chords. A percussive noise rings out which sadly signals the end as you get the feeling that it was about to get started.
“Verglas” is a thin coating of ice on a surface, for example a windshield. The music shares a similar sound palette to “Rime”, with a slow glacial pace, coldish tone and lush melody. Once the piano and guitar the piece transforms and opens up and takes you were you hoped “Rimes” would. London uses both instruments sparingly as not to over power the ambience and mood of the track, but to enhance it with complementary sounds.
Having a brief listen to the album that came between this and “The Inner Pattern”, “Invisible Choirs” you can feel a continuation in his music even though these two tracks are more centred around the concept of a season and have a more stripped back minimal sound. It also feels in a way like they are vignettes as I get the sense that London is expanding on his compositions with the instrumentation increasing towards the end of the tracks teasing you just where they could go.
As I said at the start, it is hard not to compare two artists alongside each other when they share a release. Thankfully both inhabit their own space and demonstrate their own styles which allows the listener more to engage with. That said, I am quite fond of the music of Bedroom and would be leaning towards London’s music. I would love to hear him expand on his music and create epic works as I think they are there somewhere ready to come out.