Sub Loam has had three records reviewed on Fluid by me prior to this. The first of those was a jazzy saxophone drone insomnia. The pastorality had a penchant for navel-gazing reverie. Other albums varied the script between pensive drone somatic responses and static shocks of inconsequential, always interesting melody, licked by painted noise and furnished in DIY packages. Essentialism was put at the core of the pact, and now in the fall of 2017 we find Wist Rec setting up another release for the musician. It couldn’t have come in a better season, perfectly moody and ulterior to the touch of the stylus…
It’s always inevitable to find an artist reinventing oneself when the music press three year machine treads a new path. Trends come and go, but unless you do the pop ambient side, we don’t care about popularity in the ambient scene. The aid of an audience is always nice isn’t it? But on the fringes this type of micro (macro) music only survives from the musical improvisor, how big improvisational chops they have, and if their work is not too atonal for mass listeners.
However, tradition of Sub Loam essentialism is followed; The first track presents a glitchily beautiful exponent of anyone’s listening to the early Darkwinter netlabel releases such as Formication and Cordel Killer. Submerged birdsong gardens in an unspoken wraith-like harmonic machine – very Hallock Hill of the contemporary era. The liner notes are equally aqueous and obscurantist. “Leaves tracing rays” in the liner notes is a fitting comment if put to the context of describing the oblique darkness sealed within. Coil’s Peter Christopherson and John Balance did similar on their “Musick To Play In The Dark”. Cosmic rays of aquamarine-reflecting sunshine over the bedrock of distant Dorset cliffs by the sea.
Yet in all the records apparent elevation lies a sinister undertone of decline. Whether this is due to the au fait literary description of foreboding; putting sounds on a pedestal; lining sounds up one by one but never destroying their utmost essence – this is all pivotal to the success of the abrasion, and the chill of the neck down to the spine. Of course, in every ambi-concrete album there are questions like “But what is the point of it all?” “Why do this”, “Its so this, it’s so that”… disgruntled critics are silenced here. For me personally, from the mellifluous use of texture, to the diatonic metre and aeolian morose mode, this might just be my favourite l.p. of the year!