Spheruleus – Voyage
Posted In: Adam Williams, Harry Towell, Hibernate Recordings, Spheruleus, Spheruleus - Voyage
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And now the storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased south along.
With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.
And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lincolnshire based sound designer Harry Towell will likely be familiar to Fluid Radio regulars in at least one of his many guises. A significant contributor to the experimental music scene for some time now, Towell is the driving force behind the excellent Audio Gourmet net-label, half of sibling duo Paper Relics and the man behind Spheruleus – under which moniker he has produced works with Test Tube, Resting Bell and Under The Spire, in addition to the artists’ own Audio Gourmet.
Sea voyage has provided powerful inspiration for artists and musicians since art and music began and one can see why; with its vast bleakness, solitude and unforgiving conditions, the ocean is ripe for the picking. Voyager follows the long tradition of sea-inspired albums and calls upon recent experimental offerings as inspiration, works such as Gareth Hardwick’s Of The Sea And Shore and Gavin Bryars’ – The Sinking Of The Titanic. Towell tackles the subject with no less skill and taste.
The album opens with All For Sea and one is immediately struck by the organic nature of the sounds on offer. Like the sea itself, the piece seems never to move, yet after some time has covered great distance. The drones are mournful and deep, vaguely comparable to that other outstanding recent Hibernate Recordings release, Field Rotation’s And Tomorrow I Will Sleep – at least in its vast, mysterious depth of sound. Through the following seven movements, Voyage depicts the joyful pride and sense of wonder as the ship sets sail, then the tension and the terror as it begins to sink, with haunting piano provided by Russian pianist Alex Tiuniaev on Clouds Swarm and concluding number, She Sinks.
Voyage is so evocative that one need not read the press release or track titles to offer a clue as to the album’s theme, it is simply apparent in each moment of music. This really is a superb release from Spheruleus and Hibernate, probably the finest the artist has been involved with up to now and one which shows the care Towell took in its execution, simply one of the finest releases I’ve heard this year thus far.
Voyage is available on CD from Hibernate Recordings on 7th October and features photography by Richard Outram and Daniel Crossley.
- Adam Williams for Fluid Radio