Noir et Blanc is the new vehicle for Brisbane’s prodigious dream pop wonder Amber Ramsay from the ethereal Cloud Tangle. And ethereal is an adjective that’s going to get quite a run in this review. Where Noir et Blanc departs from Ramsay’s other work is that the music is solely instrumental – a sort of ambient classical style.
Ramsay says of the project:
During lockdown I spent a lot of time walking and listening to music, or just sitting in parks. I aimed to create a body of work that mimicked this meditative state of observation rather than introspection, offering some sense of sonic expansiveness and stillness to contrast our sometimes restricted day to day routine.
‘Wallflower Pedestrian’ is a gentle sonic journey through a day, ebbing and flowing as time progresses.
The titles of the track are in themselves little vignettes of life – gentle everyday occurrences or observations that are like a little photograph to accompany each track – the story unfolding in the music.
‘[door opens]’ indeed lets us into Ramsay’s electronic cloudland – soft undulating synths that gently ring like bells, a hint of an oboe leads us to drift into the ether. The high stepping arpeggiated piano rolls of ‘[traffic weaves]’ wakes us from the reverie into something a little more dynamic – you can almost yawn and stretch in the dappled sunlight with its radiance.
Ramsay always has had a Eric Saté sparse and melodic approach – ‘[footsteps waltz]’ is a thoughtful sedate and yet powerful piece that merges into the organ-based movement of ‘[time ticks on]’ and the sudden intrusion of a synth that seems to express the forward movement and insistent march of existence.
A reference to Ramsay’s other guise – ‘[clouds tangle]’ – has a delicate and beautiful acoustic guitar rippling across the surface: spidery webs that captivate. As we reach midpoint, there is a sense that the story unfolding reflects an apotheosis of sorts – the middle of the day where the senses are awake and the consciousness expands. This is augmented by rollicking piano of ‘[flowers turn to find the sun]’ which rolls and waltzes with energy and vitality.
The now pastoral themes reflect life and sunlight – midday brightness and the elements intrude with ‘[wind blows]’ – a distant whistling wind and deep sombre piano that hangs in the air, followed inexorably by ‘[storm rolls in the distance]’. Our journey is darker as the billowing synth sounds recede and the more profound and dynamic piano become ascendant.
The day is ending – ‘[piano loops]’ has a darkness with the repeated line and a synth hunting in the distance: the sunshine has departed and the night is coming. Fittingly, the album ends with ‘[door closes]’: and the closure seems to be a gentle one, floating on arpeggiated synths and a sense of resolution that lulls us into gentle sleep, underpinned by a percussive beat.
‘Wallflower is a immersive and ethereal journey: carrying us deep into Ramsay’s creative world that sonically evokes the minute patterns of our existence – our natural world – with immeasurable beauty.
‘Wallflower Pedestrian’ is out now and available as a cassette and digital download from the eternally brilliant 4000 Records and here:
Feature Photograph: Amber Ramsay