Craig Aalders – Pacific Bloom

‘Oceanography’ is inspired by the Pacific Ocean and the waterways that intersect with the coastline of British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver’s guitarist and composer Craig Aalders steers Oceanography through the calmest of waters. Rhythms are tidal, expectant and regular, while its drones are flavoured with a light sea salt.

Over seven tracks, Oceanography details the perfect symmetry in a progressing wave, drifting in its echoing ripples and splashing into deep aquatic tones. Aalders uses acoustic and electric guitars, effectively warping the original tone until it resembles a shimmering, ambient-tinted mirage in the marina. Synthesizers and field recordings are also used. Aalders processes them through digital means until they form a single stream of reverberating tranquillity. He wrings emotion out of the music as he studies the microscopic (the white foam at the crest of a wave) and the major (its network of tributaries and river-veins).

Quivering oscillations and sun-kissed, bleached drones help to shape a West Coast atmosphere, but one influenced by the calm of off-season. His highly-detailed music has taken form from a 1981 book published by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which concentrated on ocean, river, and waterway processes and their relation to the coastline of British Columbia, and also included graphs, data, and pictures. As such, the music is equally detailed, containing within it an entire ecosystem of sustaining tones and fragile organisms. A feeling of interconnectedness defines Oceanography: we are all connected.

Oceanography moves in slow motion, like a diver in mid-swim, ethereal haloes of light drunkenly rolling over the music. Bells clink and old boats groan in the harbour; the music’s married to the marine life. Reverb-trailing tails and the sound of the surf provide an endlessly soothing soundscape, and the surf itself is a cleansing, a renewal. The sound of the ocean is true ambient music, and Oceanography is a slower way of life.

  • Film by Sam Tudor

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