Pascal Savy’s “Adrift” marks one more point in Eilean Rec.’s ambitious ‘sound map’ project, in which a series of carefully curated releases gradually establish a cartography of ambient music that constitutes the label. The fictional island delineated by this sound map is named Eilean, and “Adrift” traces its coastlines from the waters of the sea that surrounds it. There are plenty of sounds on the album that resemble heavily treated recordings of actual bodies of water, but a glance at the instrument list — tape loops, synthesisers, sine waves, guitar, xylophone, bells, feedback and pedals — suggests that all acoustic sources are self-generated rather than found.
These watery timbres aren’t the only way in which the music mimics the sea. Dynamics are used to create swells and surges (crescendos or long attack envelopes, depending on who you talk to); muted melodies slide by like underwater shapes glimpsed through the surface. There’s a kind of flatness in contour, a quality I hesitantly attribute to the music’s steady drone rhythms, that also evokes the shifting level expanse of the ocean. Tonally the music leans towards minor hues. I’d avoid using the term “dark ambient”, which for me conjures something more overtly gothic and dramatic (not that there’s anything wrong with that sometimes), but for me the record fits in well alongside other recent releases by artists such as Rafael Anton Irissari, Robert Curgenven and Lawrence English — music heavy and serious in tone, an edgy ambience that takes no prisoners.
Savy continues to plumb the depths of a balanced and weighted ambient music making, and for this release he has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the Eilean mapping project (full disclosure: the artist is also an occasional contributor to the annals of Fluid Radio). With fine mastering once again from Taylor Deupree, this is another point well worth exploring in Eilean’s cartography of ambient sound.
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http://www.staticsound.net/ (Pascal Savy)