Krysalisound was started by Sound Artist Francis M Gri in 2010 to release his own works. He opened it up to other artists in 2016 and has released works from the likes of øjeRum, Hirotaka Shirotsubaki, James A. McDermid and Drawing Virtual Gardens amongst others. It’s this last artist that is the link to Tropic of Coldness as the duo contains David Gutman who also records as Drawing Virtual Gardens. The other collaborator in Tropic of Coldness is Giovanni La Placa who has played with Fuji Apple Worship. The duo met in Belgium and have performed throughout Europe with their releases coming out on imprints such as Shimmering Moods Records, Organic Industries and Glacial Movements. This releases marks both the first vinyl release for the label and the duo.
“Maps of Reason” is the new album by the duo Gutman / La Placa, a mature work of rare sensitivity that manages to combine all the nuances of the soul as points of a map that every human being hides inside. A deep and layered album that struck me from the first moment and that continues to affect me with new details that emerge with each listening.
There are works that are born perfectly aligned with the creative flow, capable with their inspiring charge of really carrying the listener to far away places. I believe that “Maps of reason” has this inner strength and in a world so overflowing with soulless music it is truly an unexpected gift.
The band described their style, or way of constructing their music as “focused on drones / ambient / electroacoustics originated from improvised sessions, with layers of processed guitars and synths, surrounded and filtrated by field recordings in a sort of acoustic archaeology.” This snapshot gives a fair impression to the type of sounds you will hear across the four lengthy pieces.
“The Beauty And The Meaning” opens with a cold edge to the album. Long drones, that manage to weave and float, that balance between being thick and heavy and light and whispy, give a sonic impression of a cold wind blowing through a valley. The opening revels in drones, but after the three-minute mark the duo start to expand on their pallette with the use of space, silence and chiming guitars mixed in with some drones. There is a calmness that is never too laid back which is the result of the pulsing drones in the background. Instantly you can see why they had a release on Glacial Movements because of the temperature of the music and it’s slow unfurling layered pace. For the remainder of the piece it feels like a reduction of that three minute mark change in tone. It mixes the long drones (minus the darker iterations) with their guitar lines to create this bed of comfortable ambience.
“Maps Of Reason” The title track mixes field recording with a rawer toned guitar sound that gives me the soundtrack to an early dawn hike. The music has a slight cold, wind-swept feel, but you can feel that it’s going to get warmer. In reference to the tracks title I suspect that the long drones are contemplative and are used to evoke a sense of meaning. Buried deep under the layers of drones are some slightly distorted sounds that capture your attention as you try to ascertain just what they are and what they represent. They end up leading through to a change in tone of the guitars which is in line with that sort of glassy classic ambient guitar sounds of the past. At this point the guitar is used more in its traditional sense to add accents of shimmering and fractured sounds. From seemingly out of nowhere the guitar asserts its authority with a distorted line that crashes the soundscape as drones fly around it. The result is a cavernous sounds which radiates out while having a very tactile feel to it.
“The Loss Of Empathy” sees the coldness return, but with a shimmering attachment to it. The music is not held to anything resulting in it being free and flowing. Waves and waves of drones stretch out, some warm, some cold and some ghostly. It’s almost like an ode to memories being cast into the wind. The distorted influence of the title track returns which ushers in a change to the piece and makes the mood somewhat melancholic as ghostly sounds swirl about. For the remainder of the piece it varies between the gentle cold, the ghostly melancholy and the darker tones, with a looped underbelly running under parts of these. As the parts flow into each other and repeat it’s a bit hard to find a narrative that reflects the title, unless the way it changes, especially the darker distorted elements are to reflect on the feeling of losing empathy?
“Diving For Pearls” is that classic ambient guitar mixed with drone combination that is the bread and butter of Ambience. The drones are cold and slightly blurred which gives the music a whistful sound, while the guitar with its simple repetition gives something to hold onto. What happens after the intro reveals probably the most experimental of the four piece and I guess is where their electroacoustic influences take hold. Sounds career into each other, scattershot sounds and stormy sounds are mixed with field recordings creating a dense soundscape. Without having a clear understanding to the influence of the sounds it’s hard to measure their effect, especially in narrative terms. What it does do though, is change the environment of the piece from those that have preceded it and opens a different side of the duo.
Tropic Of Coldness are true to their name. Their music is suitably of cold tones with a preference for the guitar as their primary instrument. As a listener I have a liking for narrative and a flow that I can follow. This is not always the case with this album, which is not a criticism as it may suit others more. What you will get though are multi faceted lengthy glacial paced drone pieces that mix up styles and explore the feeling of their name.
“Maps Of Reason” is available on LP and Digital.