For this post I get to check out the inaugural release from James A. McDermid and Inês Ourives Delgado’s Mailbox label with a split release from McDermid and Brad Deschamps aka anthéne. Both artists have a history with Deschamps releasing McDermid’s “Ghost Folk” cd back in April, 2017 and now it is McDermid’s turn to release along Deschamps on his label which he described in an email as “a low-cost, non-profit, minimal set up of limited edition physical formats – once they’re gone, they’re gone. we want to entice both new and emerging debut releases, as well as adding to the repertoire of perhaps more established musicians too”. The first fruits of this labour is the highly limited “Transit / Transition” release.
““The title ‘Transit’ immediately came to mind for this release as these pieces were recorded in the spring and early summer of 2019 while my wife, daughter and I were in the midst of a move… The idea of transit also came to mind in a more figurative way. I’ve felt things shift and priorities change with the arrival of my daughter over a year ago. I was on parental leave from work with a very different day-to-day life than I was used to. These 4 pieces were all recorded at a time when all of these things came together, and things really felt like they were in a constant change of flux” – Brad Deschamps aka anthéne
By now you probably should know of the ambient credentials of Brad Deschamps. Whether it is helming the Polar Seas Recordings label or his releases on labels such as Home Normal, Whitelabrec, Archives and others, the anthéne name has become somewhat synonymous with fine ambience. The four tracks and nineteen minutes that make up Deschamps half are no exception. His music nicely balances uplifting emotions without the music becoming too saccharine. There still remains a slight form of darkness embedded in the drones, but it’s rather of the inward looking or melancholic version than it is a dark ambient form.
I find it a little weird that when people say their lives were in a state of flux or upheaval, or that they were limited to certain tools as when you listen to the music the feeling of flux is far from what I am getting. To me a situation may result in music that is jagged or somehow disjointed. With pieces that Deschamps has created I don’t get this feeling at all. The pieces sound as if there are from a very relaxed and content time. I gather the change in becoming a father has affected his work, whether it be time or a realisation of greater things and to me this comes through in his music. Because of the abundance of Ambient and Drone out there it is quite easy to separate the wheat from the chaff and the music of Deschamps is from the more inspiring end of the genre.
All four pieces have their own intricacies whether it is washes of sounds, gentle guitar melodies or long, slowly winding drones, that all four are very worthy of your attention (though I do have a sweet spot for “Mourning Dove”).
“The tracks that make up ‘Transition’ were recorded between 2016 and 2019; a period where I experienced more adjustment and change in my life than ever before. Each piece of music represents a moment in the slow journey I’ve made from the person I was then, to the person I am now. These pieces were recorded in the wake of several difficult moments in my life. The main ones being the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union; a short time after that, two members of my immediate family passed away, a few weeks apart.
Looking back, whilst the music exists because of the heartbreak and bittersweet nostalgia, it’s also deeply rooted in happiness; a lot of this – and the challenges I encountered trying to re-calibrate my life – has since repaired itself. ‘Transition’ is a collection of diary entries that recalls the worst that life threw at me, to the searing joy of rejuvenation” – James A. McDermid
James A. McDermid stands on the experimental side of Ambient music were texture, tone and sound sources are used in a way that evokes other genres. Through release such as “Kern-Host” and “Tonal Glints” he has been working in this manner and his side to this release is a continuation of his work, while still being open to new avenues of sound. Each piece has it’s own feel, you can see that with the first three pieces ” Break The Quiet That Lovers Know”, “Restless For Mistaken Bliss” and “It’s Me In Your Echo” all sounding quite different.
Whether or not these “diary pieces” are in chronological order or not, the pieces move from more drone related through to the more experimental electronic influenced sound of the final two pieces in “Zurich, 4AM” and “Wayward Whispers”. The soundscapes as well change with a view to a more open and clearer sound than dense and distant opening duo. This change is noted halfway through “It’s Me In Your Echo” when even though it ventures into noisy musique concrete like terrain, there is still a more open and layered sound.
The end result is an album that nicely stays away from being two sides of the same style and hopefully opens up either artist to fans of the other. “Transit/Transition” is available on limited Lathe cut 12″ LP (only two of the fifteen made are left at time of publication), Cd-r (sold out) and Digital.