Alternative Matter Review – Worlds, Afterworlds by Zero Ohms

April 2012

I worry about my children. I worry about their ever-decreasing attention spans. I worry about the world they will grow up into… a world where many things I hold dear will be, at best niche, and at worst, gone. I particularly worry about their reading and encourage them to read any piece of longform writing they can access.

I worry that we will lose longform *everything*. People don’t have the time to sit and read, or listen, or watch… if they are off doing something worthwhile then great but if this is a result of being overwhelmed or lazy then it’s a poor, poor reflection of where we’ve come. We’ve already lost “real time”… I hope “longform” isn’t next.

It is with this in mind that I approach another excellent album from the “Relaxed Machinery” stable… “Worlds, Afterworlds” by Zero Ohms.

And excellent it is… a beautiful expression of ambient electronic music. Wonderfully and unashamedly longform… at least in part… and adeptly presented.

The opening track – “Translation” – is a masterpiece of a pastoral soundscape… it evokes the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere… not the menace of being alone but the quiet but jubilant elation of being one with nature… one with Creation in all her glorious expression. Birds cheap. Planes fly overhead. You, the listener, are immersed in a safe pocket of wonder and awe. Truly beautiful and coming in at just over 28 minutes… an example of how great longform ambient soundscapes can be.

The next track – “This Beautiful Now” – is just as delightful. It is a gloriously pastoral soundscape… filled with awe. This track is, simply put, 17mins of serenity… and exemplifies the very best in the genre.

The third track – “Peace Of The Pi” – is more field recording driven with synths providing counter-balance… it has an open and airy quality with the sound of footprints in the snow adding a heightened level of intrigue to an already immersive track. It sucks you in and helps to facilitate dreams… whose footsteps are they..? where are they..? are they near a road..? why are they there..? It is a great example of painting sound pictures for the mind and shows what can be done with field recordings.

The penultimate track – “Mournful Light Of A Gibbous Moon” – features more field recordings and a warm, almost ethnic-flavoured, synth. There is a late-night quality to it… the sense of being somewhere less humdrum and more exotic… the chill in the air bringing respite rather than malice. It is a wonderful track… that is, unfortunately, over too soon.

The last track – “I Become The Emptiness Through Which The Axle Turns” – is a fitting end to a great album. There is an otherworldly, dare I say afterworldly, quality to this track. It is subtle… minimal… resplendent in light and a gracious elegance. The track leaves the listener filled… at peace… content.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album. It is a worthy testament to the power of ambient music. Truly glorious in all it’s many facets. Highly recommended.