Alessandro Tedeschi’s Glacial Movements, an initially CD only but now also digital label, celebrated 20 physical releases this Winter. Early entrants to the label included (Scorn’s) Mick Harris as Lull. “Like A Slow River” was drone coated in a lachrymose sleepydust, whereas GM003, Rapoon’s “Time Frost”, buried its riches in unique soil with enchanting synthesizer drones that titled an apex of synchronicity with deja vu.
Alessandro himself goes further than clone drone with his last released CD as Netherworld, crafting diasporic remnants of earlier times in your life, inducing memory receptors via repetition of phrases. Like The Caretaker’s album of similar name, phrases are persistent, but here Tedeschi’s view is more subdued and melancholy, likely due to the LP being dedicated to Oophoi, the Italian drone master who released “An Aerial View” as the very first release on GM. He passed away last year sadly, but in “Alchemy Of Ice” Alessandro has made a worthy tribute to his ouevre and meaning on the ambient map.
As well as a more palatable, soft palette than “Morketid”, an earlier album from Alessandro as Netherworld, “Alchemy…” invites many comparisons, but always transcends them. Tedeschi’s music never crystallises – always faintly liquid amid sheets of icy pads and melodic motifs that unfurl like gentle footsteps over the Arctic region. Numbing hyper-realism as to translate a chilling autonomy to the listener. “Alchemy Of Snow” finds Christopher Bissonnette’s “Jour Et Nuit” shimmers matched with fine piano G-E note progressions. They have a similar exactitude to “Jostedaal”, an exclusive track for Psychonavigation Records’ “Zaum Vol.1” compilation, released back in 2009.
I commented then for www.subvertcentral.blogspot.com that “Jostedaal” sounded like “a gong hit in a lonely cave”. While “Icepulse” marries an icy piano vignette with the sound of a pipe organ in the higher register. The understated mood gradations of “Polo Nord D’ellinaccessibilities” never forfeit transcendental resonances. “Hymns To A Melancholic Sunset” has to be a nod to Oophoi’s “Hymns To A Silent Sky”; a message that life goes on with his soul intact, yet something is somehow lost from presence.
The second release I’m mentioning to excite you for some glacial movements is Celer’s “Without Retrospect, The Morning”. This LP was released quietly to the world in late 2012, taking its name from a poem foreword by Will Long (Celer)’s previous partner, Danielle-Baquet Long (Chubby Wolf). It’s a very quiet set of ambient drone meditations that demand you crank the speakers up a level (not only is the CD mastering quiet, the compositions are too). 52 minutes of slightly eerie, always beautiful micro-melodies strrrr-etched out into long, gentle waves. This is the inaugural Celer release that brought to mind for me Brian Eno, of the “On Land” style; underwater ambiences dovetailing inner calm and solitude.
Long’s passages are tri-dimensional with his previous partnership with Dani: they are congruous, yet detached, and somnambulant with Chubby Wolf’s work. This is especially indoctrinated with “Dry And Disconsolate”, a slowly morphing, bleakly comported piece for synth-based drone, as are Tedeschi’s experiments (with a Roland VP9000 analog sampler). His mood here, and on the overall piece is a gradually softening harmonic whirr that devolves on itself but never evolves into dramatist kitsch. It is much more minimally sonorous than that bracket of electro-acoustic Muzak. Yet Will retains a successful charisma that continually invites repeated hearings.
The completist piece of this recent triad spotlighted is the truly wonderful “Erebus” by two big players in the ambient and drone scenes: Bvdub (Brock Van Wey) and Loscil (Scott Morgan). It somewhat goes against the idea that Glacial Movements is an “isolationist ambient” (see the Thomas Koner release) label, and posits the question of if it ever really was one. What’s certain is the sounds are glacial throughout the catalogue, and as Bvdub has already featured (2010’s “The Art Of Dying Alone”), he’s in good stead to collaborate with Morgan. They contribute to a full piece fit for theatre, an assortment of performance art fortune cookies. Angelicism in music can be traced across vocals, soaring synths and elegaic instrumentation, but Wey and Morgan give us a different perspective: air pockets in sound translating to tension and release.
Loscil is in his “Cheekeye” sounding mode (Distance Recordings compilation, 2011), while Brock buffers his sound selection as an emphatic showcase. Both artists compliment one another, Morgan more so, as he’s the more submissive. His drones and synthesizers melt into Bvdub’s toning for orchestral ambient. Slow bass pulses on last piece “Thanatos” are met with a Last Days-esque medley of intoxicating, nasally melody lying on top of atmospheric tuning. After the second track vocals enter, very likely Brock’s doing, and their layering retains just the right amount of saccharine sweetness as it does subconscious deepness. In any case, it’s the perfect end to this taster of an imprint with no sacrifices in quality for every instalment.