Visiting Tides is the sustained look across a beloved, vacant shore, the hushed, rhythmic thunder of the tide breaking in time with the fierce gusts of wind. The drones are similar to outstretched arms that enjoy the wide, spacious shoreline as much as the open sea breeze, whose violation of the speed limit is squandered and then surrendered by the white, jutting cliffs, the breeze riding the tempest of surf like a board before becoming caught in the slower bay. It’s a silent walk, alone in thought and body, along the flat of the land.
The beach is beautiful. The kind sensation of skin sinking into the wet, slick sand brings with it the direct confrontation with our own mortality; the footprints are physical reminders of our presence – if only for a second – and they also remind us of our temporary residence. The incoming tide will always renew the image, its erasure and subsequent disappearance ready to anticipate another day. Inspired by coastal visits, Simon Bainton (one half of Pausal) has left on the shoreline a beautifully pure, breathy soundscape that is in love with the outdoors. It’s ambient drone music that is full of remembrance, but it is also a documentary on the beautiful nature of the coastline. Like many of life’s encounters, the music is a voyage through uncharted waters. Unlike many an artist, the music is never in danger of sinking; it won’t fade as the tide comes in to claim others along the wide, abundant beach of ambient-drone.
The coast in question is a very British one – a typical, clouded covering of dark grey hues and wind-swept landscapes, perhaps one out of season, where there aren’t any tourists around; only the dependable rhythm of the honest tide and the empty beaches of late September or early October.
The whiter orb of the sun is only able to peek through the relentless cloud cover, any spark of light quickly extinguished and then eclipsed by grey sheets of rain and a mask of white cloud. The serene coastline is blurred against the endless sky; it feels like it reaches out forever. Seagulls silently search for their prey on outstretched wings, catching the currents casually.
The deep drone can be found if you look closely enough; it’s just out of sight, on a trail that only the locals know about. Disappearing like an out-going tide, the drone descends down grassy banks and rocky inclines that are off the radar, into those little, breath-taking openings that are tucked away from the rest of the crowd. As you gaze out, time seems to stand still, the morning trek fading into the early afternoon, making it just as difficult to distinguish the time of day as it is to make out the separation between sky and sea. Tiny rock-pools teeming with life are both liquid light and buried with a hidden depth.
The extremely fresh air of a shifting piano seems to delay forever, looking out and over the white cliffs at the murky grey of the surf below. On the horizon: another country. The sound of the ocean’s tide becomes diluted, raised to a thinner point, as if it is echoing out of a seashell rather than facing the listener head-on. The progression of the drone takes a substantial detour, sometimes skirting sideways instead of forward, taking notes from a lonesome King Crab; the drone is never in a hurry to get to the other side. No rush.
Slight, grainy textures are pushed onto the sand by the tide, scattered along the beach like shells, the harder, rough remains of crab legs rubbing against the silk of fine sand. There is a stunning depth to the music – lighter pitches are weighed heavily against an incredibly deep anchor of drone – and, in some places, the tones feel like they slide into the glacial, never facing the prospect of erosion due to their smooth surface. The sound is very reminiscent of Pausal in their prime, in the use of a deep, organic sound that is recognizable, soothing, gorgeous and consuming. Dreamy tones are submersed in clear water, playing back in a loop of reversal, as if it were the music of the retreating tide itself.
The drones are full of air;abundant life to the drone via the oxygen of the atmosphere – they gulp up the fresh air in spades. Liquid tones look upon a stunning landscape, where five second glances become fifteen minute stretches. The outro of ‘Haven’ begins its journey with the light clanking of a bell, out in the depths of the sea. It’s an unrivaled ambient drone record that will be near the top for quite some time, long after the shoreline has changed. The tide goes in, the tide goes out; it’s just another day.