Monday, November 17, 2008

International dark ambience

A couple of years ago, two electronic musicians from the opposite sides of the planet met on an internet electronic music forum and decided to trade some music files and see what happened. The result is Memory Geist, produced by Steve Law from Melbourne and Bakos Sirros from Athens, both of whom have extensive resumés and myriad musical projects. Memory Geist's first album, Funereal Cavern, was released last year on the long-standing Italian label Musica Maxima Magnetica.

Although much of the duo's solo work comes from the dance floor, Memory Geist takes its inspiration from a somewhat darker ambience. Long-form sounds sweep across the sound pallet, underpinned by deeply resonant bass drones. Abstaining from the clichés of the genre (such as creepy voice samples or massive reverberent percussives), overall the album is much more peaceful than many of its contemporaries.

The album's three tracks blend into each other while retaining their own separate identity. Shadowy Periphery functions almost like a preview for the rest of the album, a short sketch with filtered sweeps and long resonant bell tones. Much shorter than either of the other two tracks, about half way through it introduces a slow, metallic rhythm whose echo will be taken up later on. Deepest Reaches continues the sweeping sounds, but incorporates a slow, patient melody that meanders through nearly the whole twenty-minute length of the piece. Little insect sounds like crickets add to the nocturnal character, and Sayaka Yabuki's wordless vocals add an ethereal texture, blending seamlessly into the various electronics. Tiny percussive sounds characterize the half-hour-long title track, mutating from quiet bird-like chirps to a more organic, watery ambience. Gently moving sustained sounds predominate, with large swells increasing to the occasional large roar, becoming expansive and shimmering as subliminal subterranean waves roll through. The metallic rhythm from Shadowy Periphery reappears a couple of times, including a slower variant near the end as the music becomes progressively quieter.

Funereal Cavern is available directly from Musica Maxima Magnetica.

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