Friday, 30 August 2019

Line Spectrum - Bruma.

Album: Bruma
Artist: Line Spectrum
Label: Glacial Movements Records
Catalogue no: GM038

     1.      A Set of Events at the Shore
     2.      Fabric Merge
     3.      Ways
     4.      Fluidity
     5.      Quietness

Italian label Glacial Movements Records have consistently released some prime examples of glacial ambient for over ten years now, and this latest recording from Ukrainian artist Oleg Puzan, working under the project title of Line Spectrum, only confirms that Alessandro Tedeschi knows what he’s about when it comes to picking the good stuff. Puzan deftly creates some cold, unreachable atmospherics, especially emphasising an element of these icy areas of the world that’s sometimes missing from glacial ambient: the indescribable and ineffable distance in time and space, and experience, that these isolated places represent. Imagination sometimes simply isn’t enough to encompass the reality of the Arctic/Antarctic regions. When I see a photo or video of a landscape belonging to either of these places, I imagine huge stretches of geography cocooned in vast silences.

But, like Bruma delineates, it isn’t like this at all. Beneath the seeming quietude, at frequencies below human threshold, there are tiny glitches and hums indicative of constant movement. These two ice-masses are continually communicating in a language that we humans barely understand (our current knowledge would be akin to knowing how to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’ in any non-native language). Right from the outset of ‘A Set of Events on the Shore’, amidst the predominant sounds of waves lapping a shoreline, winds, crackling glitches, deep seismic rumbles, and a persistent electronic whine alert the listener to the activity that goes on without our ever noticing. Expressing it in this way underscores the feeling that these are alien environments, domains where humans may feel unsettled or out of place.

‘Fabric Merge’ explores the theme further, beginning with hissing glitchiness under a crackling slab of grainy noise, accompanied once again with seismic movements and a whirring whine that snakes its way into one’s consciousness. It’s like mammoth chunks of ice shearing away, ice floes riding unseen oceanic currents, or subtle shifts in the mass beneath our feet. All the while winds whip around the body that, allied to the freezing cold, hampers movement and makes even the most minor action a struggle. ‘Ways’ only increases the sense of cold and isolation, spectral winds barrelling and roaring through bizarre tunnels carved out by nature, as is its wont, sounding like massive airways, perhaps supplying air to the lungs of the place’s ecosystem. ‘Fluidity’ begins with quiet low bass air currents, until bubbling water supersedes, a reminder perhaps that this whole ecosystem is composed of the liquid in solid form, and in that lies its hidden strength. If it were to melt for some reason…

And now we come to what is probably the heart of the ice-engulfed lands capping the north and south poles – the sheer ‘Quietness’ that exists here. Yes, there are still those minute cracks, drones, and whines of activity going on (along with a ghostly voice) but on a much smaller scale, perhaps because we are standing at its centre, the axis about which everything revolves. Whichever way you stand, you are looking south/north depending on your location. From here you can only go down or up. It must be an eerie experience to know that when you are, indeed, standing at either the north or south poles.

Full of cold, isolationist, and freezing glacial ambient, it is nevertheless a paean to a side of these two regions we don’t often think about. The notion that silence possesses weight, a physical presence that can be felt, that can be interpreted as either welcoming or oppressive, or indeed both simultaneously in a weird kind of Schrödingerian fashion. It’s almost as if by freezing the land and water, sound has also been frozen and left hanging. Above all else, I felt a deep solitude, a detachment and displacement, as if I was no longer part of the world. And, knowing of my own predilection for remote parts of the world, it sang to my soul. And that’s a strange feeling to experience whilst sitting in a warm room in a temperate zone.

Out now, available as a download and CD in 6-panel digipak with special finish in an edition of 200. If you, like me, prefer your ambient cold, distant, and quietly but massively expressive, then I suggest you purchase from either Glacial Movements Records:

Or via Bandcamp:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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