Immersions, out now via We Know Better Records, sees electronic musician Derek Rogers flex and further his ambient sound. Using digital processes, Rogers sculpts a series of beautiful soundscapes; music such as this rises up from a deep place. Speckled with drone, ambient, and loose improvisation, Immersions is music of clarity and refinement. Field recordings are inserted into the electronic mix, with wildlife and water occasionally lapping over the music. These natural sounds are just as relevant as the electronic and artificial ambient layer, which flowers and surrounds the field recording. It’s an interesting development, as the organic sound becomes an amiable companion to the electronic process, and the two sounds never feel at-odds with one another. It’s considerate and respectful of its environment, and the music unfolds in a sensitive way. As it progresses, the pace quickens and notes are speckled with the dirt and grime of distortion, which sticks to and stains the music. It reaches a crescendo and splutters out, so there’s a noticeable momentum to the ambient music of Immersions.
Opener ‘Remake the Crawl’ introduces listeners to its fragile ecosystem. The long-form soundscape is the bedrock of the album, and the rest of the record builds upon it. At first, the warm, shimmering music is a quiet sunrise, glowing steadily until it increases in volume (and unpredictability). After its 20-minute journey, the track dissolves and fragments, touching down with a bumpy landing as it makes harsh contact with the tarmac of its runway, relinquishing its space in the air. Other hard-hitting textures intrude upon a quiet and reserved piano on ‘Cirrus’, and the track seems on the point of breaking up even as it begins, crackling and fraying at the seams before ripping beyond repair. Only the piano and a radiant drone can stop the track from fizzling out entirely.
As Immersions grows, it develops to explore experimental terrain, and it isn’t shy or afraid to shake things up, but it always returns to its ambient home, like the root note in a key signature. Rogers is able to convey a wide range of emotions, which all resonate through his lyric-less, instrumental music, and with a power equal to that of a song. The instrumentation becomes his voice, his way of expression. His sweeping panoramas can be both wide-open or introspective, with some sections moving slowly between two notes, the frequencies looping and always returning. Closing track ‘Every Reaction Is Based On The One Cast Before It’ is a mammoth 26-minutes-long. With impressive development, displaying restraint and progressive movement at the same time, the piece slowly oscillates between two frequencies and heightened drones. It’s pretty to look upon, but it’s deeper than mere appearance, and the same can be said for the album as a whole. Immersions does what it promises to do, taking his musicianship to new heights.