William Ryan Fritch x 2 – The Old Believers & The Sum of the Parts.

If there ever was such a relationship between a label and its artist that is responsible for such a wealth of material as there is between Fritch and Lost Tribe Sound, I would be surprised to find one. 2015 saw the “Leave Me Sessions” series which saw a total of 11 albums (over six and a half hours in total, spread over CD, digital and vinyl) released to subscribers. Lost Tribe Sound has released over 20 of his albums including those under the Vieo Abiungo moniker.

“The Old Believers” and “The Sum of the Parts” were two soundtracks that were part of the aforementioned “Leave Me Sessions” and sees them gain a wider release with both releases getting new artwork and “The Old Believers” having an additional 8 tracks from other works that compliment the original album. With such a wealth of material , I have selected tracks from each release to focus on.

Lost Tribe Sound boss Ryan Keane has this to say about these albums: “It should be noted, that calling ‘The Old Believers’ and ‘Sum Of Its Parts’ soundtracks paints an incomplete picture. Too often the genre or classification of “soundtrack” brings to mind sloppily arranged carbon copies of a film’s cues; often just a few main themes and a collection of one minute tracks that, when not set to picture, fall short of an overall worthy listen.”

This last statement is noted when listening to these albums as while short in length (length ranging from 1:14 to 4:06), the pieces don’t seem to be vignettes or have a different musical style to represent different moods. You would be none the wiser if you did not know of their soundtrack status.

“The Old Believers” is a documentary short film that tells the story of a group of Russian Orthodox Christians who are attempting to preserve their 17th century way of life in 21st century America and coping with surrounding modernization and internal conflicts.”

“Of A different time” opens the album with violin drones and cello that cut a mournful feel and also one with a hint of nostalgia laid over the faintest fielf recordings. Shimmering strings lead into a section of isolated percussion while violin repeats a fast rhythm that drops out to return to the original mournful cello and an ambient sounding string section to the fade out.

Acoustic guitar with gentle tones comes into the mix on the track “Clouded Was Every Prospect” (not on the original album) which becomes the bed for a variety of string sections such as cello and violin to attach themselves to and veer the piece between such styles as folk, modern classical and ambient. There is deft texture and layering of instruments that give both depth and feel to the piece. Judging by the title of the track but not seeing the film, it’s for a section of the film presumably where no decision is ultimately the best one. This could be heard in the musical territory covered.

“Left to Wander” sees percussive guitar that is roughly plucked and strummed with some minimal bass drum beats woven into an alt – folk tapestry with different speed of instruments as strings such as cello and violin with some clattering, while others are gently strummed. Sounds like something that could come out on the Constellation label.

“Still and Dense Solitude” (not on original album) sees layered classical guitar with a slight Spanish feel accompanied by the bass rumbles of cello and soaring violin with all instruments propelling in the same direction and speed. As opposed to other tracks that see the instruments and their sounds juxtaposed, these sounds compliment each other and they all build up with the same pace in the second half of the track.

“Who fell the Last Tree” (not on original album) fuses a lush Ambient intro alongside picked and scratchy violin with field recordings and a haunting multilateral drone and percussion. The field recordings which sound like someone walking through snow are paired with a shaker like instrument that gives the impression of an axe being swung into a tree. The Ambient touches, the first for the album give the track a much different feel than others while still retaining the core instrumentation and overall theme.

“By the Letter” is a beautiful interlude with gently played acoustic guitar with a lead element played over the rhythm that has a feel of distance , while a near silent drone slowly increases in volume from the shadows to be the feature element as the guitar almost abruptly stops. When listening to this track I am visualizing a scene where images of the past are superimposed overprotect times.

“We Fear Change” is a multi layered piece with at least five different things going on at the once – from the likes of delicately finger picked guitars, bass drones,violins and percussion elements (but maybe not traditional percussion instruments). A highly layered and textural piece that while packed with elements is not stuffy or claustrophobic. The layered guitars propel the track with the elements like violin providing the mournful quality like the title would imply. Possibly the standout track on the album.

“The Last Frost” is pure drone piece where a central drone emerges at a slow pace that is vibrating while accompanied by a lighter melodic one which is mimicing its texture, while a more celestial drone starts creeping in trying to come through which it briefly does just before the track finishes.

“The Old Believers” features a similar motif to that of “We Fear Change” and “Clouded Was Every Prospect” in respect to the guitar playing which has the natural unadorned picking style. It doesn’t take long for other elements to come in such as bass drum beats, violins, drones and very sad sounding cello. Fritch gives each instrument its chance but also gives the track the space to breathe with elements such as the cello and drones retreating and the focus being brought back to the rhythms created by the acoustic guitars. It is a well measured track with sections that overlap give depth and continuation.

“‘The Sum Of Its Parts,’ the feature film from award winning filmmaker/editor Fiona Otway’s introduces some of the world’s foremost robot researchers alongside tomorrow’s future leaders in robotics. This film explores the messy front lines of the crusade to make robots part of our everyday experience. From initial sketches, to soldering wires, to programming actions and performing experiments “in the wild”, scientists, high school students, and artists obsessed with bringing robots to life are shaping a new era in our relationship with technology. Yet, by observing their successes and failures along the way, what becomes clear is that robots actually have a lot to teach us about what it means to be human.”

The obvious idea for composer when writing for a film that is about robotics and future technology is to do a futurist (or retro futurist) electronic soundtrack. Fritch doesn’t take that approach, instead he ops for making the music more orchestral, large scale and sounding epic.

“The Sum of the Parts” has a radiant drone opening this string driven mini opus with the quality you would expect from a Clint Mansell soundtrack. Cutting strings, bowing cello’s and drones wrap around each other, building up each layer with a driving quality. The feel is reminiscent of a scene of a movie where the central or climatic part of the movie is happening. Subtle bass drum keeps the pace while the strings build up speed.

“Idling” is a short track with an ambient loop leading the intro makes you think it will remain in this genre, but it becomes a string driven track with a ‘glassy’ ambient feel. The combination of cello and violin mixes with the prominent ambience and acoustic guitar to a very light and summery feel. Is like a modern classical track without the austerity.

“Mechanized” You get the feeling of wonder when listening to a track like this at how one artist can come out with such layered pieces such as these. With violin strings sawing over the thump of a cello accompanied by a swarm of strings that’s literally at least 5 or 6 different sections all working together in support if each other. Time is given to let each instrument shine with elements being tge focus before retreating into the background to reveal itself once more.

“Gnashing Metals” starts with a thump of cello before entering a section of a series of violin pieces, presumably prepared piano with a toy like sound and picking or scraping sounds of string instruments to create this motorik piece that has a driving nature and falls in this almost bleak apocalyptic alt-folk sound with its clanging instruments.

“Unfounded” the return to the cinematic soundtrack as mentioned in the title track is the hallmark of this track. All encompassing ambience with classical strings that move in a glacial pace and have a haunting mournful sound to them. The strings lilt and waft before xylophone heralds in the low timbres of the cello to add bottom drone that is almost entirely droned out by the strings as they gain in intensity and and total domination over the track till towards the end where just the ambience, xylophone and bass drum remain.

Throughout these albums Fritch shows his musical chops in the form of composer, musician and recorder. His strength lies in his ability to construct multi layered pieces with an attention to, structure and how the instruments work together. If I were to chose between these two albums Would pick “The Sum of the Parts” purely because my taste leans more to the cinematic feel than the more rustic Alt-Folk that his is familiar with. However, both albums are recommended.

Drifting, Almost Falling – Spotify playlist

I have put together a playlist of artists that have or will be featured in this blog. Only one track per release per artist and naturally only those that have their music featured on Spotify. This will be updated when more releases are featured on this blog and/or available on Spotify.

Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer – Lowlands.

The third release in Iikki’s audio/visual pairing comes from the musical duo of Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer paired with the photographs of Ester Vonplon.

Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer are well known names in the Ambient/Electronic community with the New York based Deupree running the highly respected 12k label as well as being an in demand masterer and musician himself and Fischer a regular collaborator with Deupree (“In a Place of such Graceful Shapes” and “Twine”) and the man behind the highly influential “Monocoastal” album. Ester Vonplon is a Berlin trained Swiss photographer who traveled to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean in summer 2016. She sailed the ice-clogged seas of the Arctic Ocean on a three-masted sailing vessel, to capture the impressions of the calving glaciers and melting ice.

This journey in the Arctic Ocean was the perfect beginning for Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer to compose and record Lowlands.

Iikki states Deupree music “emphasizes a hybrid of natural sounds and technological mediation, and shows a marked attention to the aesthetics of error and the imperfect beauty of nature, marked by a deep attention to stillness, to an almost desperate near-silence” while Fischer’s “work typically centers around memory, geography and the manipulation of physical audio recording mediums. Slowly unfolding melodies and warm tape saturated drones have become a trademark of his recordings.” Both these descriptions are evident in the music that makes up “Lowlands”.

“Lowlands” starts off with toy like piano, field recordings with a static haze quality to them, distant bells, occasional guitar. The track has a dreamy quality with a combination of muted sound and then a crystal clear guitar piece that gives the track depth. Its almost like the images contained in the book of something submerged and then being revealed. There is also the occasional warped sound as if something has been left to the environment has changed shape. There is a bass hum that comes towards the end if the track, that if listened to in a car has the power to vibrate the vehicle.

“On Branches” starts with what sounds like someone going off to record something and they are setting to their dictaphone. Bells chime, scratching sounds, detritus, old micro Caretaker like sounds are buried. Loops abound, but not obviously. The main feel is of decay, like something is breaking down, but the track loses most of the clattering sounds to a nice ambience at the end.

“Rides” Drones, glitchy tones, warped melodies, guitar plucks build as the track starts off slowly and picks up speed with a kaleidoscope of sound as if wheels are spinning towards a descent. Percussion, mostly cymbal sounds like and sticks clatter making the track denser. Towards the end most of the elements fall away.

“Migration” guitar leads off this track , with a warped sound, treated guitar sounds of shuffling or of sanding wood, light drones that give the affect of a clear sky. The memory of fellow 12k artist Seaworthy comes to mind with his fusion of sound and guitar.

“Sometimes” has a hint of an eerily still early morning with electrical buzz, ambient drones, chimes, occasional beats, but not in the traditional sense. Buried guitar slowly makes its was out of the background, while drones float. Some of the electrical like sounds remind me of recordings where people have recorded the natural environment and the sounds emitted by the earth.

“Snow Slowed” goes hauntilogical with buried sounds under a veneer of dust, with haunting drones, broken piano and a bright becoming harsh drone which sounds like an icy gale whipping around the environment.

“Cascaded” warped sounds caress effected guitar in a loop like fashion with an underbelly of crackling static and detritus. Tones flitter and break down, chimes generated from the guitar give a xylophone like tone. Slow drones, with a slight high tone hold the middle ground for the detritus underneath and chimes on top.

“Rivers” a violin drone cuts across the beginning, with melodic under play looping around, guitar is picked carefully, clattering field recordings, dark cello like drones which give ominous edge buzzsaw across, sounds which remind the listener of a childs jewelry box bump into each other and the sounds of a breeze swirling around are all included in this track which has the most clearest if sound palet on the album. It naturally finishes with recordings of water.

The obvious thing for musicians to do would be to make a heavily water based record with a glacial feel to it to emphasize both the coldness and the the slowness of glaciers calving and melting. To their credit Deupree and Fischer don’t, they follow the descriptions of their styles that the label stated above to a tee. The recordings made over the period of 2014-2017 come diverse areas such as Reykjavic and the duos own areas of Pound Ridge and Portland respectively. The recordings do have a feeling that they can be applied to other themes as they are not rooted in one sound. My only complaint would be use of warped sounds over several of the tracks. While it makes them share similar element, it appears to be slightly overused.

Josco & Spheruleus – Folded Distance.

If you are a fan of Ambient/Drone (you probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t) the name Harry Towell would be one you were quite familiar with. Harry records as Spheruleus (and also Magnofon) and has appeared on labels such as Home Normal, Hibernate, Analogpath and Time Released Sound to name a few. He also runs the Audio Gourmet, Tessellate, Whitelabrecs and Warehouse Decay labels and started the Irregular Crates blog/label.

Josco (aka Gerard McDermott) is a writer, photographer, curator and sound designer from the Republic of Ireland. He is currently based in China. He has previously released on the Somehow Recordings label and has created compilations devoted to Irish music.

“Folded Distance” which was recorded between March 2011 to March 2016 “is a record about travel, but it is also about staying where you are and staying where you feel you belong. One of us moved around a lot and the other stayed relatively still; although we were geographically separated, we could communicate instantly across the incredible land mass between us -the more we set about weaving Josco’s drones and the exotic sounds of Asia with the sleepy rustic fields of Lincolnshire and Spheruleus’ instruments, the more the concept of “Folding Distance” became apparent to us, and the more it became realised by us.” The album was influenced by distance and the artists ability to communicate and collaborate weaving their sound recordings (from Turkey, Ireland, UK, Morocco and Thailand) to their own experiences. The album was mastered by Home Normal boss Ian Hawgood.

“Samila” presumably influenced by the beach in Thailand opens with the squall of a storm with static billowing and wind like drones that emerge from the dying storm. The drones are layered giving different tones and are looped with an almost exhaling like sound. The field recordings of the environment return as the storm/wind pans from side to side with granular sound before acoustic guitar comes in gives the track a different feel, one of contemplation. By the end of the track the ebbing storm has taken over and it fades to silence.

“Kilis” presumably after the small town on the Turkey / Syria border features acoustic guitar over field recordings of conversations (possibly workers at a market?) while Synth drones soar above and below. The elements pan from side to side with the occasional field recorded music entering the mix. The drones dominate the track but don’t convey the tortured recent and past history of the place. That said there is a mournful quality to them.

“Tungsao” containing field recordings of the market place of the same name is an environmental sounding drone piece, with wind like drones that are cut up, utilization of field recordings to form sounds, recorded traditional percussion, delicate piano, cooking sounds like glitches all thrown into the mix. You get the feeling of something similar to the Freeform albums that came out on the Quartermass label back in 2001/2, like this piece is an audio diary to a specific experience.

“Praterstern” named after a station on the line U1 and line U2 of the Vienna U-bahn is the noisiest track on the album thus far. Opening with low-frequency noises, static, some sort of indefinable noise like things being dragged (but with effects), vinyl crackle, short intertwined drones, a very low bass noises and electronic rubble noises.

“Kru Ze” the longest track on the album starts of with what sounds like an airplane getting ready to take off, joined by sounds of decay, electronic bells, guitar like feedback drones, static dissonance, jarring drone. But while there is a darker element to the track, it is not too bleak.

“Solva” a fishing town is on the lower west coast of Wales and this track is a welcome respite to the ferocity of “Kru Ze”. It contains looped vocal drones alongside traditional ones. There is almost warped pastoral feel, like if a piano accordion that was broken was being played in short bursts of sound. As the track progresses there is a wash of noisier environmental degradation with the looped vocal being the counterpoint to the growing storm and clattering noises.

This album is different to one that I was expecting. I was expecting a rather straight forward pairing of two distinct sound sources in a more ambient fashion. What we get is a more environmentally born album that is open to the interpretation of each listener. There is a lot of depth to the tracks and the density is apparent. For listeners who prefer the noisier end of the Ambient/Drone spectrum.

Enrico Coniglio & Matteo Uggeri – Open to the Sea.

Dronarivm return to the musically fertile country of Italy for their latest release. Although the release is credited to Enrico Coniglio and Matteo Uggeri there are a decent amount of collaborators on this release such as vocals/lyrics coming from Francesca Amato’s (aka Comaneci), Lau Nau, Violeta Päivänkakkara and British actor John Guilor.  Extra brass from Fabio Ricci (Vonneumann), electronics from Guilio Aldinucci and Stella Riva (Satan Is My Brother) and mastering by James Plotkin rounds out the collaborators.

The label describes the collaboration as s result of fruitful email conversations and describes the collaboration as “Sweet and minimal melodies on piano, organ and guitar of Enrico meet the efforts of trumpet and drums of Matteo whose electronics treatment and delicate beats provide the solid ground to a music that seems a perfect match of the two artists sensibility.  “Open to the Sea” explores a variety of merging organic sounds where the calm and intimately of the album is disrupted by incursions of gentle noises and sometimes curious juxtapositions.”  

Coniglio describes himself as a Guitarist, environmental sound recordist and sound artist with an interest in the landscape aesthetics. He has previously appeared on labels such as Fluid Audio, Crónica Electronica, Taalem, Glacial Movements as well as co-running the digital label Galaverna. 

Matteo Uggeri is a frequent collaborator with releases with artists such as Andrea Ferraris, Maurizio Abate and Christiano Deison on labels such as Hibernate, Time Released Sound and Scissor Tail to name a few.

“Open to the Sea” starts off with Francesca Amato’s sweet sounding double track voice reciting the title. Ambient tones and granular glitches start the track which is no hurry floating at a gentle pace. Lau Nau’s haunting vocals float over the soundscape which is building in intensity ever so slightly before violin cuts through and field recordings of possibly a market place enter that are crisp enough to make you think they are there in the room with you. I would file this under electroacoustic sound art than as ambient per se.

“Jessaias de reduire mes medicaments” begins with Scanner-like recording of a phone conversation/ interview which is joined by melodic ambient tones and musical saw like drones which are peppered by glitchy electronics that are pulsing and phasing. This short track combines the experimental elements alongside the more the melodic electronica and fuses them together well.

“Up Over The Harbours Lights” Coniglio’s guitar opens the track in a blues like style alongside ambient drones that coincide with the final strum of the guitar before piano, industrial sounds, field recordings and samples enter the sound mix. The track shows the musicians soundtrack-esque construction to create a sound palate of dissimilar origins to work together.

“I Am The Sea” features Violeta Päivänkakkara on vocals and lyrics and starts with her ethereal vocals before melancholy minimal piano, guitars, synths, distant percussion, bells, electronics and trumpet fuses together to form a track that is so many genres mixed into one. The haunting trumpet that cuts through mixed with Päivänkakkara’s vocals, alongside piano and electronic and traditional percussion works so well as it covers post rock, electronica, Electroacoustic and soundtrack works so easily.

“Floating Metal Sheets” this experimental sounding track sees assistance from fellow Italian and Dronarivm artist Guilio Aldinucci. This track starts with acoustic guitars and some sort of background percussive noise source that I can’t get my head around. Some crackling electronics start and flutter with drones lightly covering them as a rolling noise pans left and right. Trombone joins the track with an effect similar to a car slamming on its breaks, before changing to slow mournful blowing over the acoustic guitars while electronics scatter about.

“Dutch Street Theatre” features UK voice over artist and actor John Guilor who has worked on Dr Who. Guilor’s narration is laid over piano, drones and violin and field recordings of people talking. I am not sure where the narration comes from and whether it is related to the theme of this album, but it doesn’t personally work for me.

“Now I’m Silent” starts with an electronic heart beat sound paired with darting drones, piano and percussive noise with electronic whistling, before venturing into jazz territory with wailing trumpet and electric guitar, disjointed gunshot drums. It’s a track of two quite separate halves that work well separately, but take time to get used to the differences.

“Allarme” begins with a broken piano like opening, before alarm sounds pan in and out and glitch electronics, cymbals and piano are gently caressed. Field recordings, possibly of radio or loud-speaker transmissions traverse the piece that is being slightly held together by piano while non traditional percussion rattles and rolls with brass instruments and intermittent sounds. Again Coniglio and Uggerri manage to fit a lot of source material in a piece that while at times seems like a juxtaposition, but also compliments one another.

“I Say I May Be Back” sees radio samples and static overload piano with a hint of paning banjo, guitars and percussion that has a nautical feel with Francesca Amato’s vocals that bring the album full circle with the recurring title line. The instruments one by one break down leaving Amato’s voice to finish out the album much like she started it.

“Open to the Sea” is not a straight forward album to get a handle on. There are so many constituent parts that make it up and it covers Ambient/Drone/Post Rock/Experimental/ Electroacoustic genres, sometimes in the same track. The thing it has going for it is it’s unpredictability and it’s depth is that it’s not a release that can be easily glossed over. Most of the tracks work extremely well and the depth that James Plotkin has gotten in the master allows for that richness and shows why he is one of the most popular masterers around.  There is a special version of the release limited to 50 copies which comes with a jigsaw and bonus digital ep.

https://soundcloud.com/dronarivm/i-am-the-sea

Covarino/Incorvaia – Granada.

I’ll put my hand up and say reviewing an improv release is probably not my forte. I have, in the past tried to get into improv. The likes of Bailey, Braxton, Rowe and others have passed in and out of my collection. Experimental electronic improv is probably easier to get a handle of due to it’s more flexible nature. When you are using more traditional instruments like drums and guitar it can be a bit trickier to, as a listener, not follow pre-assumed expectations of what the sounds will be like.

Covarino/Incorvaia are musicians Francesco Covarino (drums) and Alessandro Incorvaia (guitar), originally from Perugia in central Italy. Their debut release emerged last year on Poland to UK imprint Preserved Sound and was named after the artists’ hometown. Both artists grew up together and played in bands together but now find themselves in different countries. Alessandro based in London, UK and Francesco in Granada, Spain. Their follow-up album is named after the latter as they focused on a live and more improvised set as a duo, without the additional musicians included in ‘Perugia’.

They recorded this album over Christmas with their influences of Post Rock, Indie, Free Jazz and Ambient coming to notice. They chose not name the tracks, just like “Perugia’s” tracks titled “1” – “6” as to not put a prescribed theme to the album.

“Granada 1” opens with a distortion led drone with faint flickering in the background with Post Rock style guitar (think Slint of June of 44) looping with the first subtle padding of percussion appears without over powering the guitar. Francesco’s drumming starts to get a little more urgent but also in a jazz form while Alessandro’s guitar holds path before both musicians start experimenting for a short period before returning to the gentle patterns of the start.

“Granada 2” opens with percussive use of space and various Toms and cymbals before guitar makes its entrance inhabiting both a sense of space, but also holding the same post rock sound as the opener. Francesco’s drumming uses different paces and is mostly free form in the jazz tradition rather than in the sense of creating walls of sound with the symbols etc… While “Granada 1” was mote guitar focused, “Granada 2” sees the drums more central.

“Granada 3” opens up with guitar drone and the exact cymbals that were mentioned in the previous tracks. They shimmer and crash while the toms are beaten, bells are shaken as the drones stretch out before being joined by more guitar that ventures into almost post metal territory with the volume and heaviness which ends the track to silence.

“Granada 4” both guitar and drums start off this track and the percussion reminds me of Jim White of The Dirty Three and indeed Alessandro’s guitar is also Mick Turner-esque in it’s delicate strumming of the strings.

“Granada 5” sees the fluidity between the two musicians in that it doesn’t come across as an improv track, both the guitar and drum follow their same consistent, but separate paths that are fused together well with the pace of each musician machine the other. Harmonious drone also accompanies the track giving it a melody but obvious in the other tracks. Probably for it’s more cohesive nature this is the standout track.

“Granada 6” starts with slow spindly guitar strumming building up a rolling almost ale country come post rock piece that builds as this time both members are on guitar with Francesco playing classical guitar alongside Alessandro. Humming drones wraparound the guitars give them a dose of ambience and some distortion and compliments the guitars. A close second to “Granada 5” for standout.

“Granada” shows two musicians who are comfortable playing together to support each other as well as experiment around each other. It will be interesting to see where there paths continue to go in the future.

Endurance x 2 – The Invincible / The Vacant Coast.

 


Having a moniker is a tricky thing for a musical project. What sort of idea do you want to give to the audience? With a name like Endurance, Japan based Canadian Researcher and Translator Joshua Stefane (who uses volca keys, volca FM, Op-1,SI Evolver, Saucillator App, effects pedals, field recordings, tape recorders and others) could be making extremely challenging hard to listen music. Thankfully this is not always the case. Recent releases have been on the cassette and digital format with imprints such as Polar Seas Recordings, Pyramid Blood, Other Worldly Mystics and others. The latter two labels are responsible for the releases covered in this review.

The Invincible released on Pyramid Blood in an edition of 50 cassettes, is a concept album of sorts and is seen as an unofficial soundtrack to Polish Sci-Fi writer Stanislaw Lem’s 1964 story of the same name. In the story “A very powerful and armed interstellar spaceship called Invincible lands on the planet Regis III, which seems uninhabited and bleak, to investigate the loss of her sister ship Condor. During the investigation, the crew finds evidences of a form of quasi-life born through evolution of autonomous, self replicating machines, apparently left behind by an alien civilization had inhabited the planet a long time ago. The novel turns into an analysis of the relationship between different life domains, and their place in the universe.”

“Regis III” starts off the album with minimal electronics, aquatic like ambient sounds and melodic synths drones that combined give a feel of a SCI FI film and the landing of the Invincible on the planet Regis III. There is a feeling of hovering over something with the swirling ambiance reflecting desolation and the feeling of being alone.

“The Lonely Shore” combines low-level field recordings of water slowly flowing in and out alongside glacial synths drones, with siren like drones entering the sound as if the shore is being explored and someone is approaching something. There are some mechanical like sounds or effects that are added which gives to the fact of the story featuring evolved mechanical lifeforms, like the explorers are being watched.

“Cyclops” is a short track that  features a darker pulsing drone with industrial playthings breaking down and pressurized wind sound added and could be an aural representation of the surface of the planet.

“Necroevolution” is a reference in the book of evolution of non living matter. The track starts with two layers of mechanical sounds before a long drone comes slowly in and is joined by a whirring noisy drone that builds while it turns and some vocal like howling sounds loop in and out. If this is the evolution as stated above, it is shown by the growth if the track as all this elements keep getting bigger and end up swarming the track, before chimes and electronic bell-like sounds round it out.

“The Cloud” references the micro-machines in the story and their ability to form a swarm and travel at high speeds. The track has a long melodic drone with a slightly high pitch which has a lower pulsing drone underneath it which is punctuated by the occasional noisier swarming sound to imitate the sound of the “cloud” as it travels at speed.  Later the track has a sound that appears to be like a sound of elevation (like an aircraft). This is longest track, but seeing how in the book the people from the Invisible battle these micro-robots and their ability to form swarms to battle the and overpower them, it makes sense that this track has the longest length.

“This Realm of Perfected Death” is awash with classic synths stab drones which give off a feeling of calm or resignation. You can imagine it in a 80’s sci-fi film walking through some sort of desolate abandoned area. There are at least 3 different types of drones that are fluidly rolling over each other, phasing in an out and going in a circular fashion. The drones fill the sound of the track while it builds and builds until it fades away to nothing.

File Under:  SCI-FI Ambient/Synth/Drone .

The Vacant Coast released on Other Worldly Mystics is another concept album of sorts as this was based on the found photographs of 1960’s Japan that make up the cover art and the inner sleeve. Central to the album are water sounds.

“Low Season” starts with chime like sounds that make up a melody, field recordings before rumbling of possible rain and impending storm roll in and scattershot sounds appear in the foreground, before retreating to the background. These elements repeat before the field recordings start to take over, bird sounds appear and the storm increases before fading out. The chime like melody that is looped is the center of the sound of the track.

“Ornamental Grasses” carries on with field recordings and as suggested but the title involves the rustling of vegetation, while a very subtle Synth melody appeared that is not to unobtrusive to be ignored, nor to forceful becomes the focus. Almost half the way in it is joined by an almost orchestral section which provides the ambient counterpoint to the other sounds.

“Weaker by the Day” Synth melodies of a semi random feel make for an off kilter sound with added field recordings and reverb coexist before a storm of sound threatens to engulf them all towards the end.

“Motions Overhead I” returns to coast with the sounds of water, distant gulls squawk and we see a return of glacial synths before the weather turns bad and noise descends in a storm that produces rain , while “Motions Overhead II” sees layers of Synth drones from the like glacial ones to ones with melodic overtones gliding over a repetitive alarm like loop before the water sounds appears. If “Motions Overhead I” is the sound of a storm, this track is like the calm after the storm.

“Adjacency to Water” features a powerful drone augmented by churning water sounds and ebbing and flowing frequencies that provide a focal point to the maelstrom underneath before they are overwhelmed by the field recordings.

“Uncertain Sources” a low slightly ominous humming drone coupled with field recordings of birds and waves crashing on the shore are joined by melodic synths drones that give the track light and make the track stand out from the others. There are additional synths bleeps and blips that remind me of the previous album.

“Coastal Geography” shimmering electronics with glitch like loops mark this track like the previous as sounding like “The Invincible”. Synth drones abound with no sign of field recordings, just layers and layers of Synth loops and drones.

Since these two releases Endurance has also put out a cassette on the Polar Seas Recording label called “Echoic Architecture”   and a sold out cdr on Sea of Clouds called “Enlightenment Interface”. If I had to choose between the two releases I would choose “The Invincible” as it has more variance in the sounds and I feel follows the theme of the album perfectly.