Label: Dronarivm

I was a big fan of ambient artist KJ’s album Spells and this is a worthy partner with a central track that curiously both anchors and somehow rockets the listener through an emotional cyclone. Before we reach that moment of sonic theatre, let’s press play.

‘Maze’ sets quite a dark tone, a bit like the apocryphal ecstasy comedown, but not all is well in the chill-out room. This segues into a kind of Bersarin Quartett loop where a gentle regency mood is presented.  Minimal harpsichord-like sines and piano refrains are tinkling away but slightly on edge. This passes into a large maximalist drone which feels like the afterglow of a violent raincloud with dark clouds parting for new vistas. Weather forecasts appear to be pretty with inclement warnings at the same time on ‘Sile’.

But the centrepiece of this record is without a doubt one of the best ambient tracks I’ve heard for some time – ‘Thursday’ – a combination of Henryk Górecki, William Basinski, Gavin Bryars, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham (in 400 Guitar mode) and it’s right up the alley of any discerning neo-classical or distressed tape fan. There’s a kind of field recording or submerged effect of crashing waves in the mix there also – a little like the cycles of life repeating. Here, we become repeatedly heartbroken and smashed up, and given the choice we do it all again. My only niggle is that I think there could have been an opportunity to develop this further into a huge album-length experience rather than what feels slightly truncated on here and I’d love KJ to try a very long form work like that. That said, ‘Thursday’ is worth the admission price to this long-player alone.

What follows is really the resolution and oceanic rutting of that pivotal track with a return to that Bersarin feel and some lovely guitar work (a little Bill Frisell?) on ‘you’ before the beautiful collaboration with Aaron Martin on ‘foxes’, which has some gorgeous harmonics with even a little Lynch/Alan Splet-esque sound design. I half expected the woman in the radiator to make an appearance.

This is a moving ambient record with fingers in neo-classical pies, beautifully executed and presented in a great pop-out case on the CD from the ever-reliable Dronarivm label.