If music unlocks the heart, then A Baleia (which means ‘The Whale’ in Portuguese) is a subtle rotating of the key, a 22-minute selection of soulful tape-recorded soundscapes. Will Samson’s latest album crafts kind, instrumental music, its soft, lulling tones originating from a state of deep relaxation and tranquil, limitless motion.
Last summer, Samson spent some time in a flotation tank – a soundproofed pod where one floats in salted warm water while at the same time experiencing total darkness and weightlessness. This experience proved to be deeply healing and therapeutic, and these sensations ripple through the music, submerging it in a tide of sensuous strings and slow-moving atmospheres.
Paradoxically, the music glows warmly as it lies in the dense depths of darkness. A feeling of unrestricted freedom is able to turn the locks of an ashen heart until it wakes up, changing its key, transcending into overwhelming euphoria.
This is a utopic experience, but it’s a mere illusion, an imitation played out in the rigid confines of a cube, and that’s okay. That’s more than okay. You’re free, unattached to the world and its pressures, severed from its umbilical cord, a step out of reach from its outstretched, lingering hand. The music feels both detached and intimate, at once wrapped up in and removed from its surroundings.
When the eyes open, they stare into the darkness. When the lids close, everything lights up.
The music is in the world, but the pause button has been pushed, its license to pressurize and demand fully revoked. Soaking in the soothing texture is something close to bliss. The world continues to exist, and it continues to speak, but things are tuned out of range, like quiet voices coming from another room or a radio with its volume turned down. Senses are heightened.
Featuring violin from Beatrijs De Klerck and Matt Resovich (of The Album Leaf), Samson also collaborates with Brumes and Benoit Pioulard, forming something of an ambient dream-team. The strings swell and meander, brushing against the gently-breathing body of music like eels slow-dancing in the deep.
Under the water, everything’s unclothed, and strict regularity disappears. The music loosens, becomes elastic as it kisses the depths, with only a drum occasionally keeping up an appearance of perfect time, supporting and upholding the music’s bone structure. Other than that, the gloopy, brightly coloured tones drip like honey as they splay out their tones / arms, floating in life-giving waters. Like a mermaid’s song, sugar-sweet feminine sighs and vocals emanate from within. Sometimes in the ascendency, as if rising up on the tip of a bubble, and sometimes drooping like a shipwreck, Samson’s music is the sound of ambient freedom. Things are better down where it’s wetter.
Release date: 18.05.18.