EP REVIEW: Głós – ‘Swimming In Colors’: monumental ambience from Affin

WE’VE taken a look at Joachim Spieth’s rather excellent Affin imprint in these pages before but, if truth be told, not quite often enough.

At the very fag end of December we reviewed label boss Joachim’s brilliantly deep, sculpted, ambient IDM set Ousia, an absolute masterpiece of a journey in warmth, depth, electronic delight, very much pushing forward into the new decade in a tradition of Global Communication, The Irresistible Force, Basic Channel; an album of which we said, hearts admittedly more than a little a-flutter: “it plays firmly inside the pocket of modern ambient electronica while finessing and polishing the spatial and aural possibilities of the sphere.

“It ain’t broke, so Joachim has seen no need to fix it; but the closer you peer into the depths Ousia affords, the more you’ll see – and you’ll find it hard not to fall in.”

Affin has actually been running as an IDM imprint for 13 years now, and it hosts many other fine examples – many, many – of current intelligent electronica thinking, besides Joachim himself; try, for instance, the tribal winds of “Meta”, from Seoul’s Einox; or perhaps the deep minimal tech of Toko Fuko’s “Astatine” from last year.

As well as being something of an adept of a musical form which is easy to do mediocrely, but hard to pull off with thrill and wide eyes, Joachim combs the globe for like minds, one foot very firmly on a darkened dancefloor; one eye very much on the euphoria of the after-party.

For Affin’s second release of 2021, Joachim is debuting a three-track EP, the first from Berlin’s Christoph Grosty, who records as Głós; it’s entitled Swimming In Colors.

Polish by birth, Christoph actually comes from a more traditionally rock background, and brings a different aesthetic to his techno; a brace of EPs as The Celestial Lineage had a darker, crisper dancefloor vibe, but as Głós (pronounced ‘Gwos’), he’s both been gradually revealing a more open, dubby side – check “Press Start To Play”, from 2019’s Music For Sleepovers; towering, isn’t it? and been hugely productive, with five albums in three years, mainly for his own Non-Print label.

Christoph Grosty, aka Głós

With Swimming In Colors, we’re told Głós conceives to paint a musical landscape of depth and intensity in which colour pigments are removed and put together to form a new whole; let’s take a listen.

“New Sins” opens the EP, a deep, warm sound bath, that rock background showing, I fancy, in the deep, overdriven fizz of the dominant drone which gradually makes itself central, emerging from the cooler hush of a cyclical, pulsing piano tone, surging and scouring deliciously, but always anchored by that opening motif, if only just. It’s a track which, in listening, I fancy you can approach a number of ways; go with the beat, the rhythm; cast yourself into that higher, distanced swell of sound. Through an excellent set of speakers, both would be thrilling. That little vocal sample at the end comes with a start – to encounter humanity in here, out here, is unexpected.

“Serenade” takes the traditional definition of the form – strictly speaking, such a tune is one played in the open air; indeed, by a musician under his lover’s window – and inverts it, like all the best Berlin electronica, subverts it, while staying faithful in spirit; for is that not a lover’s whisper, in French, which catapults out the stunning drone textures? I want to crawl inside this tune, know every part of its multi-grained depth, its warp and its weft, in the same way you get with Jan Jelinek’s Loop-Finding Jazz Records. You need to bury yourself, and that’s only correct. If anything, you could read the enthralling sandstorm of sound here as a force-eight reading of Monolake’s Gobi: The Desert EP, all the majesty and beauty and awe of landscape, the outside, captured in sound.

At just over 16 minutes, it’s the title track that concludes the EP; alive with texture, at what sounds like perfectly recorded pebbles shaking in a jar or somesuch – that collision of rock and glass in a very small way – it widens into a ululation, almost a muezzin’s call, a human tone to the central sonic spine. It mutates, grows, whisks you away to just where you need to be; weightless, rotating slowly, detaching as if in that state that immediately precedes sleep. It glows, this track; once more, it exhilarates. You can’t help but reach deep into the synaesthesic for comparison; music to glide above calving ice flows, maybe. To watch lava run glowing and gelid. Music, in short to be tanned and awed by.

Głós’ first EP for Affin, only three tracks – only, indeed – is three whole different, astonishingly enveloping sound worlds. Let’s hope he records an album in this vein; it’d wipe the floor with your consciousness. Intelligent ambience with incredible design and edge, it’s one hell of an opening statement for an artist to make for his new home. A 12″, Joachim, please?

Głós’ Swimming In Colors will be released by Affin digitally on March 16th; you can pre-order your copy now at Bandcamp.

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