MYSTERY SEA 19 | Encomiast | [Mers de Sommeil]


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- "...On the lawn's edge
staring into the ocean's abyss
no beach,
instead a finely manicured shelf
descending into untold depths
as hazy (menacing ?) shapes
drift lazily fathoms below."

- Ross Hagen, December 2004


At the core of US project Encomiast is Ross Hagen, a graduate student at the university of Colorado College of Music...
With this pedigree, it's no surprise that main ingredients of Encomiast's sound palette originate in traditional instrumentation (treated guitar noise) & notions of harmony, but these parameters have been subtly inflected to pave the way for hazy abstract soundscapes...
After a couple of albums for, dark opus "Winter's end" on LENS, things started to get more elaborate with "Espera" on H/s RECORDINGS...
More recently, Encomiast has been recycling extensively recorded live performances, dissecting them, extirpating textures from them, reassembling the pieces to forge a dreamy language of haunting tones...
"Mers de Sommeil" illustrates this approach and is like a burst geode where volatile flakes drift away, slowly swirling, numbing our senses, making us reach a new threshold of perception...
Lost ritornello, the scent of an old perfume, sepia spray, blurred silhouettes...
a sea of catalytic memories...
a biased environmental view...
drowsy moments of reappropriation...
"Mers de Sommeil" uncoils inexorably, in repetitive languor...
and from its drowned melodies, the ensuing displacement, we emerge in a state of acute awakening...


01. Into The Depths Of Itself > unrar + listen !
02. Obliviate > unrar + listen !
03. Reef
04. Somnebula
05. Surfacing
06. A Visible Myth Of Origin




CHAIN D.L.K.|Eugenio Maggi
Rated : 4 stars out of 5
I was not familiar with Encomiast, which, started as a trio, is now the solo project of Colorado musician Ross Hagen - and, by the way, US label Absolute Zero Media has just released his brand new full-length, which is his fourth one, I think. I'll surely want to dig deeper in Encomiast's discography, since this limited cdr, aptly titled "Seas of sleep", features some beautiful, trance-inducing drones. I venture Hagen's starting instrument is a guitar, or a string instrument, then streched and manipulated into slowly changing waves of sounds - mostly lulling and subdued, but with some well-controlled moments of billowing noise ("Somnebula"). Everything sounds carefully conceived and assembled (a big plus in times of instant records), shifting from darker metallic rumblings to passages of rarefied melancholy. Encomiast's approach to ambient minimalism reminds of Troum's, True Colour of Blood's or Moljebka Pvlse's best moments, and invites to frequent listenings.

Touching Extremes |Massimo Ricci
Encomiast is the "nom d'art" of Ross Hagen, who studies at Colorado College of Music, where the great Stephen Scott is one of the professors; I wonder if Hagen is somehow influenced by Scott's bowed piano compositions. Most of Encomiast's pieces move slowly in impressive unidentifiable harmonies, surrounded by obscure vapors of disorientation. In some of the parts, unrelenting waves of shifting low frequencies create a chordal comfort for the soul to abandon in ("Reef" and "A visible myth of origin" being the example AND the best overall tracks) while more disturbing currents of melting dissonances build an environment where doubts and anguish prevail, leaving the sonics suspended between foggy power and repetitive nonentities. It's for the most part an engrossing experience that highlights Hagen as an artist with solid fundamentals, which make the difference in his sound world's consistency.
touching extremes

Rated : 7 out of 10
Here's another lengthy dark ambient excursion from this Colorado noise project, and I do believe this is his finest work to date, opening powerfully right away with the subdued yet emotional tides of "Into the Depths of Itself" - built around slow, eerily melodic drones that rise and fall and cascade across the lower levels of the mix with a gentle touch that really works well. This approach remains consistent for a brooding and hypnotic eight minutes before giving way to the thicker and more restrained low-end hums of "Obliviate", which also tops six minutes and tends to be a little more menacing due to its avoidance of the melodic undercurrents. "Reef" continues this same general approach to dark ambient soundscapes with softly swelling drones and a little bit of a bright edge that strikes a balanced between what the preceding two compositions had to offer; while "Somnebula", the longest track at just under nine minutes, takes a very similar road with its lulling repetition - adding in a couple of grazing textures that slide across the foreground from time to time. "Surfacing" comes across as somewhat more robust, what with its heavily reverberated textures filling more of the space surrounding the core of the piece as it slowly strips down to a faint and controlled end. "A Visible Myth of Origin" then returns to the brighter and more melodic stylings of the first track, making for an effective close that adds in just the right amount of movement and activity without disrupting the ease of succession displayed throughout the disc. The CD-R is packaged in a standard jewel case where the layout looks to have been printed from a quality color printer, so even though the release certainly would've been better served to have been professionally pressed, it does look pretty good considering. I definitely enjoy the visuals, which tend to be abstract yet consistent in their use of murky colors and textures that match the tone of the music well. Despite the fact that each track runs longer than six minutes and the individual pieces are very consistent, as is the record as a whole, this is a nicely flowing excursion into hypnotic and suggestive experimental noise that suits my listening tastes quite well. Some of the source sounds date back to the mid-90's, and I'm not sure if that impacts the sound at all, but I certainly appreciate the warm, dense presence that the material puts forth, as it really envelops the listener and feels appropriate for the tone of the album. There's not a great deal to say about the tracks herein since they do tend to build upon the same themes and approaches, but the end result is an enjoyable experience that certainly points to yet more potential from Encomiast. I'm surprised the project hasn't received a slightly wider range of appreciation from various circles within the experimental scene, but hopefully better things are still to come. This is very much worth looking into.


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