Drone On Review – The Geometry of Shadows by Broken Harbour

19th February 2013

My first introduction to Blake Gibson’s music was his 2011 masterwork “Gramophone Transmissions,” one of the most unique space ambient albums I’ve experienced in my almost quarter century of exploring electronic music, which consisted exclusively of processed samples and loops, forming a fascinating collage-like tapestry of layered ghostly harmonics, drones, old vinyl, mellotron, choral and piano soundscapes. The follow-up to “Gramophone Transmissions”, released in 2012 on Relaxed Machinery (a limited number of CDR’s in nice digipak were printed; it is also available digitally), takes a much more minimal and “classically” electronic road than its predecessor, seemingly derived from a couple choice synthesizers without much in the way of reverb and echo, giving the soundscapes a monochromatic timbre. This isn’t a negative in my book; in fact, the synth sounds are quite impressive in that the sounds from these minimal sources don’t smack of factory presets at all, but a decidedly meticulously hand-carved approach. Considering Gibson’s interest in science fiction and space travel, it’s no surprise this album celebrates the physics of the great black void once again, specifically the concept of superluminal (faster than light) communication, or even travel. The awe and wonder of vast astronomical distances is captured in tracks like the excellent opener “Superluminal,” a quiet droner which approximates an interstellar spacecraft hurtling silently at breakneck speeds through the darkness. Things start to get spooky by the second piece, “The Geometry of Shadows.” There are probably some strange physics going on way out there, which this piece describes with cosmic whooshes, bass-heavy pulses, and mysterious crackling sounds. “Between the Darkness and the Light” begins ominously with unsettling sonorities, but morphs beautifully into an almost ecstatic meditation of soothing light flowing infinitely. “Luminosity” follows with a mesmerizing drone that Mathias Grassow would kill for (!) and builds in quiet intensity with layers of high-pitched harmonics before returning to the original gorgeous drone and fading out. Closing track “Ansible” (defined as “a fictitious machine capable of superluminal communication, typically found in science fiction literature”) continues in the style of “Luminosity.” I think this piece was the only weak spot here: doubling the length of “Luminosity” and extending the fadeout drone would have made a more effective closer.

I have to admit I found “The Geometry of Shadows” difficult to get into at first. It is in many ways vastly different than “Gramophone Transmissions,” and its minimal nature demands nothing short of the listener’s full and undivided attention (and headphones are an absolute must here). It’s a work that, like much of the best electronic music, or even films, reveals more and more with repeated exposure. Fans of abstract deep space masters like Tau Ceti, Oophoi, and Seren Ffordd will find much to savor here. Well done Blake!!

Source – http://www.hypnos.com/smf/index.php?topic=5813.0

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