Mark Lyken

The Terrestrial Sea

Mark Lyken has a exploratory release here that stretches the quills of dark ambient but doesn’t approach anything clandestine. It’s similar to Lustmord and Koner – take tracks like opener ‘Dry Sea’, where a fittingly austere sphere of clouded harmony gives a clue to a glimmer of hope from one of the synth layers.

Much of the release is buffeted by clanks and contortionist sound design; indeed, the submarine-like nature of the subject matter – all about the ‘Terrestrial Sea’, as we know it, but seen through Lyken’s eyes and ears, thus becomes how we perceive his relationship with it. These utilitarian effects of speaking of solitude through emasculating context of the dark ambient field – and looking to nature of his own recording processes – peaks Mark to make a mark on the sea, a foot print sunken in icy cold water.

It can be expected of any sea release for the tracks to be longer form than usual 3-4 minute wonders, which works well to prick at another type of consciousness; rather, this is music with no contents insurance – it doesn’t enquire about how to operate. It merely sings its own tune, on barren plains of the ocean, whistling away like a quietly erupting torpedo in the background. Played loud it’s an equally sinister affair, but a frightening one, too. Take the Jaws-esque arpeggio hum of second track “Monument”, fed extra nutrition from Boards Of Canada synthesiser HQ. It sounds like an alternative version of ‘Basefree’, an ambient one, even, for the original of that track was pure Detroit techno. Painfully pretty is not a term I would normally use, but it applies here, only balance is relieved the longer you listen.

The pain as ever for us ambient fiends looking for emotion in our music is there isn’t enough emotional content there. Mark Lyken transcends this revolving door of a reality by giving us so much to be thankful for. A stellar, touching release. Welcome to the terrestrial sea…

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