Second full-length collaboration between Berlin and Stockholm composers pushes hard for Stars of the Lid sunblissed drone - and succeeds. Essential
FATCAT’s boutique 130701 imprint is one of the leading go-tos for the experimental edge of modern composition: that zone where classical bleeds and blends with modern rock and electronic thinking, cross-fertilizing and moving forward.
Out now is a first full-length collaboration for the label between Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman and Stockholm’s Mats Erlandsson, who have been quietly collaborating since 2015’s debut set, Negative Chambers.
The pair’s new album, Emanate, luxuriates in the warm drone tonality of acoustic instrumentation. Opener “From Light to Refraction” swells and breathes, pulsing and occasionally just dipping a microtone into delicious dissonance. Spare, echoing woodblocks clack. It’s gorgeous.
In fact, it’s both incredibly hard and actually redundant to venture into a track-by-track synopsis. Let’s clamber over into classicism: these are, indeed, movements of a whole. “From Light to Refraction”, “From Refraction to Procession, “From Procession to Refraction”, “From Refraction to Light”: there is a wholeness, a rise and fall. There are discreet interlude sequences that blend seamlessly.
Glotman and Erlandsson say: “Emanate was structured around the strict formal design of a three-part palindrome, following the pattern A1-B1-C-B2-A2. Each is bridged by interludes, which follow their own logic.
“Each part on the first side of the palindrome focuses on a specific approach to tonal harmony – chordal or intervallic, contrapuntal/canonic and melodic.
“As the piece progresses through its second half, these borders become blurred. As a consequence the piece has two parallel formal arches: one linear progression through the whole duration; and one mirrored.”
The work explores the duo’s conception of ‘displaced sound’: that is, combining electronic and acoustic sound sources; a music that sounds neither clearly electronic or acoustic, existing instead in liminal space.
They say: “In our oversaturated digital age, we’re frequently led to make snap judgements. Technological advances were supposed to free up creative thinking, but this flood has instead led to an erosion of our creativity and attention.
“In many ways, the idea of a longform music is unsuited to and out of phase with these times. And yet, there is recent evidence of a reaction against this … witness the rise of the practise of mindfulness and the cultural elements of a ‘slow living’ movement; the huge success of Max Richter’s marathon Sleep project; and the emergence of an expansive musical niche intended to function not as ambient backdrop to other activities but as a deep listening, intensive immersion.”
Let’s allow the purity of the high musicianly concept its validity, while we ourselves step down into an emotional response to this album. It’s wonderfully recorded and pressed, for those vinyl buffs; it’s measured; it has a human warmth, while not losing sight of sonic and creative expansion. It blisses. It’s fucking beautiful.
This album, frankly, is a must-have for aficionados of A Winged Victory For the Sullen, yet who also wish for a little of that apricity that floods through Stars of the Lid’s Ad Aspera Ad Astra, The Tired Sounds of …, et al.
It’s amniotic, it’s hypnotic, it’s moving; it leaves me fulfilled yet craving more. Again, I say; again.
For me, as lover of swelling, harmonic drone, it’s quite simply a must-own.
Yair Elazar Glotman and Mats Erlandsson’s Emanate is available on 130701 here in a digital format; a vinyl pressing is also due.