Various ‎– The Promises Of Silence

Label:
Hic Sunt Leones ‎– HSL 004
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CD, Compilation
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June 4, 2012
The strangest thing about this album is probably the way thirteen different artists have joined together to create one single, graceful & mystifying atmosphere. This empathic fusion of minds, this zeitgeist one-ness has culminated in an album whose ethereal beauty & outre ambient soundscapes fit perfectly into a sound-journey which relaxes & fascinates. Why this sudden explosion of sound artists has come now is hard to say. This is the antidote to the WIRE-named Isolationists - tearful drifts of gossamer memory down dusty-yet-sun-illuminated corridors of the imagination. HYBRYDS set the theme with one of their most gentle, rolling things, a looping tension of dragged sounds over which piano picks it's delicate way & distant harmonic voices form waves. DJEN AJAKAN SHEAN (NESHRUN) comes next with "Mountain Wind", a little more complex, opening with chimes, sounds like nocturnal desert creatures & thin lines of synth drifting before gradually moving into a jungle rhythm on thin tuned percussion. STEVE ROACH offers "The Unbroken Promise", a gentle driftng, rolling dream-cloud formation full of warmth & beauty despite it's shapelessness. It reminds me a little of some of the COCTEAU TWINS' material around the "Victorialand" era without the form. VIDNA OBMANA's "Glass Splendour" has a very similar sound, floating, drifting, from it rising a deep drum sound which blends into the atmosphere like some complicated variation on healthy heartbeat. JEFF GREINKE's "Winter Light" is a composition which seems to place accent less on tune than on the tones of the piano, notes seemingly random like water droplets in the Winter thaw. Below & through this drift discrete keyboard sounds, all combining into a slightly darker mysterious soundtrack which could easily be set to film,, the audio expression of a mist-swirling, bleak ghost story. ART OF PRIMATIVE SOUND offer the aptly-named "Subterranean Worlds" which was recorded live at Toirano's Cave in August '92. It typifies their sound, which is created using primative & ethnic instruments - howls, drones & indistinct shufflings & scrapes make this a strange piece, and the shortest on the album at only 2'10" (the average around the 7 minute mark). ORA give us "Sadalsuud", which seems to be an ambient junkyard soundtrack over which is added warm swells of keyboards. It reminds me a lot of JOHN WATERMANN's piece on the "Sky Flowers & Horses Eggs" album. The sound of a cat within this scuttling, post-machine noise-scape fooled me several times into thinking it was my own Feline demanding food. The wonderful ALIO DIE (buy their album if you haven't already) bring us "The Hidden Spring", sounding like bones being scrubbed by a toothbrush in some subterranean spring while distant mood sounds float out of the darkest depths of the cave - things inhuman, if not threatenng then clearly disquieting - Lovecraft's more benign denizens (if such there were). ROBERT RICH's "Black Skies" thunders & booms as if someone had composed a storm into a gentle rhythmic piece. From here it gains an Oriental feel to it, it's mood remaining dark & mysterious. SAFFRON WOOD bring us the longest track on the album at just under 10 minutes - "Deep Water". It has a much more definite composed feel to it with a sequential motif rising above the driftig drones & waves. It changes continually, evolving into a more tuneful thing with percussive synth chains & a myriad noises all combining, changing course midway through with plucked bass keys adding another element to the sound. BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL's "A Good Omen" is one of their more drifting pieces, again weeping in amorphous waves, gently caressing the audience with huge shapeless cloud formations of moody sound & harmonic voice. Held within the complex sound are spoken words, and it finally tails off with female voice singing. As always, something good from this group. TEMPS PERDU? bring us "Ouroboros", a sustaining mood thing with drifts of multilayered female voice, a tense precursor of the groups admirable talent, this hangs in the air like gently waving ground mist, while high above sing angelic voices, and between the two, a clear air of tension. The album draws to a conclusion with "Baby Thing" by DWIGHT ASHLEY & TIM STORY, again choosing drifting sustains of keyboard with half-hidden piano, shimmers of electronics & child-like voices within. The album is, without a shadow of a doubt, a classic, and, without seeming derogative to those who feature in it, is far greater than the sum of it's parts. If you are interested in this music, but don't know where to start, there's no better place than here! Beautiful & breathtaking.

Originally reviewed for Soft Watch.