MYSTERY SEA 02 | Ultrasound | [encomium]


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Main Entry : en·co·mi·um
Pronunciation : en'kO-mE-&m
Function : noun
Inflected Form(s) : plural -mi·ums or en·co·mia/-mE-&/
Etymology : Latin, from Greek enkOmion, from en in + kOmos revel, celebration
Date : 1589
: glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise.
ENCOMIUM implies enthusiasm and warmth in praising a person or a thing.

-"Ultrasound's new cd-r is a glowing tribute
to the multidimensional perception of time.
Kirk Laktas (formerly of Stars Of The Lid) and Rfovetz
use live computer-based sampling of their patented guitar and bass drones
to carry the listener into a state of suspended animated aural perception.
Recorded between 1996-1998, the release also includes the music
from a dance perdormance/sound installation by Rfovetz in Den Haag,
The Netherlands."

- Rfovetz, August 2001


Ultrasound's core are Rfovetz & Kirk Laktas.
Together they outline a rippling tapestry of subliminal & hypnagogic sounds,
one of the most beautiful haunting drone music to be heard today...
In this they share more than common ground with STARS OF THE LID
of whom Kirk Laktas has been a former member...
The material featured on .encomium. has been recorded at various moments between 1996 & 1998...specifically collected for MYSTERY SEA,
all pieces have carefully been chosen to form a flowing construction...
Overall, the resulting "Ocean of sound" is warm, shrouding, deeply immersing,
shaping up a language of new perceptions...
.encomium. unfolds at the pace of quiet glistening waves,
spreading their "dewdrop-particles" into the listener's mind, making him reach a state of subdued dazzle...
A drop falls with a slight resonant echo as in a ceremonial of infinite reflections & overlapping circles, paving the way for a sharper insight...


01.1 a drop becomes the ocean, ocean becomes the drop
01.2 enigmatic curves of the dutch night
01.3 past life experience
01.4 maybe I will know by sound and taste
01.5 lo.8
01.6 vertical cravings
01.7 convexing concave
01.8 Lisa, play
01.9 ne pour meme




VITAL WEEKLY 313|Frans de Waard
Ultrasound may be known from their LP's and CD's,
including their recent blast in tribute of Popol Vuh (see VITAL WEEKLY 299).
That split LP was a leap forward, but here, on this limited CDR release, they hark back to a couple of recordings made between 1996 and 1998.
The nine separate pieces are put together as one long track of some 45 minutes of sublime dark atmospheric guitar music.
Slowly, majestic evolving sound which sound similar to their earlier work (the first three LPs).
A rich tapestry of sounds, that at times sound bare similarity with Stars Of The Lid (of which band member Kirk Laktas was once a member), but has enough originality (and beauty) of it's own.
Desolate soundings towards the end (sorry, I didn't bother to figure which is what here, I just let it go by) of a guitar plinking solo against a giant wash of drones.
Music as deserted as Texas is (the state where these boys hail from).
Endless road music. A perfect soundtrack to watch the stars at night.

vital weekly

RECYCLE YOUR EARS|Nicolas Chevreux
"Encomium" is the new album by Ultrasound, an americano-dutch band who has already quite an extensive discography behind them,as well as a tour in Europe in 2001.
Featuring one of the founder of the Kranky act Stars Of The Lid, Ultrasound plays calm, subtle and utterly relaxing atmospheric music made of drones, extremely distant samples and, at least toward the end of this CDR, scarce post rock guitars.

"Encomium" is an extremely calm recording, that won't help you to wake up on rainy monday mornings.
Starting with repetitive drones, changing slowly to silence-like soundscapes and finishing with nostalgic guitars (that might have been better placed at the beginning to the CDR, by the way), this is an encompassing journey that you have to listen to in a row (but you don't have the choice, anyways, since the whole thing is only one long track).
Mind numbing and very mesmerizing, "Encomium" works by getting your attention little by little, then drowning your ears in subtle movements of drones and tones, bringing changes very slowly.
Seldom has a release so well deserved the term "ambient".

Benefiting from a very nice production and made of sounds that don't remind much of anything else, "Encomium" is however something I couldn't listen over and over without falling asleep.
Beautiful and not boring, it is however incredibly relaxing and hypnotizing.
This is an album that I would recommend, but only to the people who feel able to actually focus on the sounds, or they will get drowned in the atmospheres and might pass some of the nice textures this album is made of.

Rated : nicely composed abstractions get a B
Somehow triangulating between Austin, the Netherlands and utterly unknowable otherworlds, encomium (a ltd edition cd-r from Belgium's Mystery Sea label) encompasses nine (titled, but unmarked) movements within one 45,5- minute long dronescape.
Woofer-shivering low tones hover, thrum and undulate slowly through the entryway, eventually thinning to reveal somewhat glitchier regions of faintly gristly soundooze, then gauzey tendrils of cyclic haze waft in respiratory gusts.
At the thirty-minute mark, gently swirling spaciness extends as far as the ear can see, with mirage-like occurrences in the vapors.
Almost- flatlined soundcurrents adorned by faint guitar-twang impulses crescendo into the final moments of this enticing display of shapeshifting.
Recommended to fans of long-form immersion.


For some reason this disc is presented as one long track, 45 minutes, though there are 10 (?) individual tracks listed in the inlay. This causes problems, it is always better to have indexes to make pieces easier to follow. Unlike Hamesh which was also recently reviewed here, Encomium has no singing, rather concentrating on the more atmospheric side of the bands work - which judging by the other works on Mystery Sea that is what this Belgian label is going for.
Encomium starts, rises from a slow drift, backed by a light rain, an open environment with bells chiming and other stray sounds populating the spaces. The sounds of a field are heard, wild space as bees buzz across flowers and drone rises as a thick bass presence. A layered sound, on the base heavy and solid in its drift, higher than that there is a casual swirl, interwoven with the core. Smoothly understated harmonic, with a rising edge that comes up with time ; encompassing on the whole, mounting in an increasing swirl.
Taking the lull to be the move on to the next section, we return once more to a sedate environment, running water as a healthy trickle. Through the back of which we can hear the first strands of sound. As this rises by bare increments we can hear a low voice in the mix, a woman talking, her advice - "don't fuck it up" - and you can't argue with that. This is the trigger for a sweeping rise, driven harmonic spiral of sound. Taking on a certain vibrant warmth at its core, before stripping to a more focussed stream and rise once more. Opening up more to describe a scape horizon in smooth waves, reflective in their motions.
Towards the 20 minute point of the disc we can start to hear other details coming into the flow, brief strokes and passing details, but present none the less. A couple of minutes later there is a sustained dark stroke, an echoing detail, perhaps the sound of a train through a tunnel, something similar at least - with the general atmosphere taking its cue from this influence to some degree. but the effect is absorbed as easily and the drones blossom in waves from there, lighter string work a gentle flurry that enhances the deeper, rounded waves.
Sighing in an almost choral harmonic adds to the flow, the effect of the plucked strings increasing as we reach for another fade point past 25 minutes. The deep breath of rounded dark ambient tones wells up, backed by a certain hazed description. Waves low oscillations of sleep effect. Deepening with a core drone coming up; maintaining the respiratory rhythms. Higher strip comes in past 28 minutes, wavering before gaining ground, triggering multiple layers, echoes from that point. Moving from wallowing wash to spaced out streak over the next few minutes of sound.
Fading off to a low point before working its way back up once more. Sudden expansion at the 35 minutes mark, more embodied by the process. Deepening again in dark ambient waves, with strings touched periodically to extract note impressions. Drone dipping toward 38 minutes then turning with a different tone and guitar marked vibe. The guitar notes in careful contrast, precise and distinctly finite, while the drone sustains as a sonic body. Intonation of string vibe plays a steady coherent line, sighing reverberant chords. The two sides of this construction melding with a central vibrancy, intensifying sensation in the process. a little cymbal drift carries slow motion crash line across swollen melodic interface, drone caught up as melodic warmth - carrying us to a last conclusion.

INCURSION|Richard di Santo
This is the second release for the recently formed CDR label Mystery Sea.
Ultrasound is at its core the duo of rfovetz and Kirk Laktas, and here they are joined by Denise Laktas, Nathalie Hill and Tiana Hux.
I must confess that the first time I listened to this disc I fell asleep, and the second time I listened to it I almost feel asleep, and the third, well, I was wide awake the whole time.
At first I was a little embarrassed to admit such a thing, but I think in the end it offers a nice comment on this music.
Encomium presents a long piece, over 45 minutes in length.
It breaks up into sections or movements, but I think we can safely say that there's a unity in all parts.
Ultrasound create long, drifting ambience : slow, open drones and drifting soundscapes that are incredibly effective at calming the listener into a state of dreamy tranquility.
You could forget about this music and simply drift away, or as I discovered, you could turn a close ear to it and discover an intriguing set of sounds, from long drones, the strumming of guitar, crackles, or voices buried deep in the mix.
It might not be the most adventurous ambient music you've heard, and I might situate this piece somewhere in between, say the peaceful ambience of M Griffin of the Hypnos label and the intoxicating dronescapes of Mirror, but it's certainly deserving of a few late night rotations.


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