SEA 19 | Encomiast | [Mers de Sommeil]
"...On the lawn's edge
staring into the ocean's abyss
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 MP3.com, 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
"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
and from its drowned melodies, the ensuing displacement, we emerge in
a state of acute awakening...
Into The Depths Of Itself > unrar
+ listen !
02. Obliviate > unrar
+ listen !
06. A Visible Myth Of Origin
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
Extremes |Massimo Ricci
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.
: 7 out of 10
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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