Pleq & Hakobune – Adrift

Adrift, by Pleq and Hakobune, has been given the reissue treatment. Remastered by Ian Hawgood, Adrift’s sound has further opened thanks to its original masters making the transition to reel-to-reel. The NKR release, which came out in 2012, has now found a place on Home Normal, and this newly-packaged edition also features remixes from Olan Mill, offthesky, and Polar M. Giulio Aldinucci provides the panoramic cover art, which fits the open and windswept music down to a T.

Adrift’s ambient music is mesmeric and its immersive soundscapes are left open to individual interpretation. One would expect nothing less than a stellar album from these two experienced musicians, especially when the music fits so snugly within the ambient field, but the transfer to reel-to-reel has opened up another dimension in which the music can enter and engage with the listener in new and striking ways. Like an upgrade to High Definition or tapping into 4k resolution for the first time, this reissue opens the ambient floodgates and brings new life into its eight-year-old music…not that it felt dated. Everything is refreshed and brought into a new decade, but this reissue also highlights the fact that the original record was quality, as it hasn’t really aged at all. If anything, it feels younger than ever before.

After a lengthy opener, title track ‘Adrift’ adds recurring ambient swells which fall into regular, tidal rhythms which could either recall the sea or the repeated sway of branches and leaves on a windy day, passing through and over the trees. The music rises in volume and then falls back, while field recordings of birdsong are clustered in the background, adding to the sense of the great outdoors. The listener could be adrift in both worlds, on land or at sea, in a wooded area, deep in the forest, or afloat on the ocean.

At sixteen minutes, ‘Horizon Line’ has plenty of time for development, and this leads to a deeper, immersive experience. The track fluctuates with its water-like, fluid tones while an array of loose, light textures sporadically emerge, and a stronger, resolute drone hovers at the forefront. Closer ’The Land Unknown’ adds an element of mystery to the record. Here, the exotic sound of a rainforest, teeming with life, blends in with a darker, tribal drone to create a fascinating track. The rainforest’s abundant lifeforms can represent Adrift as a whole, because its transfer to reel-to-reel has paradoxically sharpened the music and given it an extra life.

Life flows through the record, turning everything it touches into a new creation while retaining some semblance of its eight-year-old self. Even if the notes and textures appear to be the same, the appearance of the music has changed, looking fresher and more tranquil, and its resulting music has more flesh on its bones. Whichever way you look at it, Adrift is a welcome reissue for an impressive release, and one which is keen to explore new continents instead of treading over the same old ground.

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