The air is intangible, a secret Valentine in an admirer’s heart. The air sacrifices itself, keeping us all alive, supporting a system that couldn’t live without it. A low, hovering drone slowly filters in, smearing a soft layer of pink lipstick over the music. The drone’s presence is felt as a soft ocean breeze, ruffling the hair as well as the raincoat; a hushed thrumming of the Earth’s magnetism, a quivering current of static electricity, and an unexplainable hum pressing against the air’s skin at two in the morning. It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Supporting the breezy drone is a light harmony, entering and fading, itself like a verse of lyrical respirations, overflowing with cool oxygen.
The pale surf surrounds the rain-lashed drone, wrapping it up in protective clothing. The cool, sober colours are always there. The Presence series is a continuing experiment in concentrated, intentional listening. Presence, the project of Andrew Tasselmyer (Hotel Neon), isn’t so much a series of soundscapes but a series of sound worlds.
Traffic peppers the world, with the violent red lights shading the music, and the angry blare of a car stuck in the slow lane echoing into eternity. The airy shush of the closing bus doors and the soothing, muted whistle of a passing train occupy the streets of a washed-out drone. These sounds in turn shift and swoon until they become the very definition of ambient music. The environment – the very atmosphere – can produce soothing sounds, as The KLF proved with their seminal album, Chill Out.
Reinvented, remerging. A sound may reappear in a new way, but it was paradoxically already there in the first place. Removed from their subject and location – a chaotic street, a rush-hour road lined with Tetris-like blocks of traffic, and rain falling on a grey afternoon – the sounds morph and become isolated ambient beings. In both tone and timbre, some of the sounds we encounter everyday can be surprisingly relaxing despite not always appearing to be so. Again, it’s all about the context – the sound itself and not the situation or the experience. Without the cool backdrop of a drone they are lonely outdoor things, a rose longing for rainfall’s music.
These found sounds adorn a sedated selection of ambient drones, lulling but also crystallizing everything; it’s a blending of the two, tied together as if in marriage, the two becoming one swirling and transparent body. The music is as vital as oxygen. I couldn’t live without you. So long as your heart is open, you’ll hear the music of the world around you. It’s everywhere, and it’s beautiful.