MYSTERY SEA 46 | náhvalur
"...and in the lofty sky
whose dull tones no longer recalled heat or sadness
everything was propitious to night and indefinite meditations..."
CHANNEL INTUITIONS "
the single French man & dronologist with projects under the names
of Oh, Birds! (and cd-r releases for Dust Apparition, Palustre, and
Cook An Egg) and more recently Xalaxsxaq (whose debut on MS is already
scheduled) & UK delicate soundscaper Matthew Ellis
(operating also under the Parhelion moniker with Emily from Sorrel,
and under Openverge, his own solo experimental-ambient folk vehicle)
have teamed up to form the arcane náhvalur...
navigates clearly into the unspeakable, conveying a force and a prodigious
sense of Mystery...
At the edge of what could
be an ageless dim wood
long belts of humus sigh
spreading as erratic evaporations
The soil flutters seeming to murmur...
"aboideau" fans out, flirting furtively with
the opaque shadows
sounding the depths, and all things invisible
to extirpate its core...
a world of vast meaningful echoes & sibylline activity
a metaphysical immersion...
01. roth rámach
VITAL WEEKLY 626|Frans
Once again Mystery Sea finds somebody
(actually two) of whom I never heard. Náhvalur
is made up of Alexandre Rito from France, who records
as Oh, Birds! and Xalaxsxaq (and as such will have
a release on Mystery Sea soon) and from the UK Matthew Ellis,
otherwise known as Parhelion and Openverge. I assume they exchange files
per (e-)mail. Their four tracks on 'Aboideau' are trade
mark pieces for the catalog of Mystery Sea: the aquatic, deep sea drone
music. Taking sounds from the washing machine, a ventilator or something
like that, they transform the whole thing into music which sounds like
you having your ears under water. Sounds from far away become mingled,
semi-distorted and far away, muffled. As such I must say nothing new
under the drone sun (or should that be: nothing new on the waterline?),
but Náhvalur play quite a decent job at their
music. Nothing too spectacular, nothing too weird either. Just a plain,
to náhvalur: The closing track 'pleistocene'
is particularly instructive of the whole. if, indeed, glaciology were
a genre of ambient music, náhvalur would represent
seminal contributors to the discipline. while 'glacial drone' has become
a boilerplate in the phraseology of oh so many lazily penned reviews
while, at the same time, appreciating the other colossal sound blizzards
that have long covered the atmospheric aural landscape (e.g., subotnick,
biosphere et al)--alexandre & matthew
are simply too adept in their appreciation for the resonant silences
and subtle geologic indicia--they hear the distances and let be heard
the delicate echoes. These works of microscopic fragilities gust with
an air of originality that prohibits easy lumping into an unsatisfying
'polar ambience' designation. 'Aboideau' is simply
too realized in its detail-rich, exquisitely layered compositional mass
to be heard in any way but on its own, frore and wholly liquescent terms.
| Baz Nichols
treats us to what amounts to a dronescape, but this is no ordinary dronescape,
as it is beautifully and subtly handled, with a gentility and resonance
that lures me in to its wake. On “aboideau”
Náhvalur (a teaming up of two artists, Alexandre
Rito and UK based Matthew Ellis) appear to
be seeking out a new, arcane language with which to communicate. Infused
with subtle resonances and interplays of harmonics and cross-phasing,
aboideau experiments with the medium of drones, panning
them around the audio spectrum, and creating swirling, luminous presences,
vast cavernous pieces that then drift into the ether, metaphysically
re-connecting on some other plane.
WONDERFUL WOODEN REASONS|Ian
do people get these names from?) are operating in the field of drone
music previously populated by Andrew Chalk & Christoph Heemann's
Mirror project. Delicate, multi-hued, gently unfurling tones that
are a little grittier (sprinkled with pops and crackles) and a little
darker than those produced by those illustrious counterparts but that's
not to detract from what's on offer cause what's on offer is very good.
However (on track 3) when he adds the field recordings to the mix 'aboideau'
lifts and becomes a mighty fine release indeed. One that has been
haunting my stereo for many weeks and which I suspect will continue
to do so.
wonderful wooden reasons
Behind this puzzling moniker hide Alexandre
Rito (defined a “dronologist” by the liners) and
Matthew Ellis. Did this writer know them before? No way. What
about the plethora of other projects featuring their involvement? No
clues from the names listed on those same notes. Do I like this record?
As Jim O’Rourke would have it, “fuck yeah!” Not only
that: the reviewer also feels duty-bound to affirm that this is one
of the best recent Mystery Sea releases, the main argument being the
linearity of the essential concept. This is the correct manner in which
an album fitting in what, for ease or idleness, critics define as the
“dark ambient” cauldron should be made. Take a few sources,
systematize and broaden them minus unnecessary bells and whistles and,
in particular, without 1) distant reverberating thuds à la Chris
Carter’s “Millennium”; 2) processed didjeridoos or
additional exotic breath instruments; 3) praying or chanting people
of any kind; 4) atrocious vocal samples and plastic presets; 5) stones
rattling in a can and/or similar pre-school playgroup activities 6)
excessive liquids (we shouldn’t say this when writing of a label
whose key inspiration is oceanic but hey, as much as I myself love water
sounds it’s come to a point where a plumber will have to be called
for all this leaking from the speakers). Right, there’s water
here too, used very unobtrusively though. Náhvalur
start with a prosperous drone and, except for a slight modification
of the surrounding ambience, end with that unchanged notion. Beautiful,
suggestive hums from some place we can’t visualize and will probably
never see, low frequencies - enriched by sloping currents - that remain
in the proximity of stagnancy until the closing stages: no ineffectual
movements, no voices from the dead, no arctic bullshit. That’s
what one needs from the genre, and “Aboideau”
- thank god, it still happens - delivers.
--- NEW !
A perfectly amphibious album - splashing
about in and around the water - harmoniously constructed by Alexandre
Rito and Matthew Ellis as Náhvalur,
"narwhal" in Icelandic and Faroese.
”Roth Ramach” achieves admirable aquatic stillness with
nothing but a low rumble disturbed only by the occasional bubble rising
toward the surface. ”Remora” sounds absolutely ear-splitting
in comparison, wind whining across the surface of a chill Scottish loch.
As it sweeps unrelentingly past, the listener seems to be moving toward
something more substantial, a mysterious buoy or even a crowd of rescuers
on the shore, brought to the scene by the ringing of village church
bells. For it does indeed convey a sense of danger.
”Laveer” sounds just as nautical but its rough seas seem
much less threatening, as if viewed from a secure, dry place, perhaps
the "aboideau" (tide gate) of the album title.
This the longest piece opens to present a wider and broader albeit still
grey-scaled vista as it proceeds, punctuated by mystery sounds.
The ”Pleistocene” is of course the ice age and eventual
emergence of modern man. And if this track is meant to convey the harsh
snow squalls confronting an ancient hunter and gatherer somewhere in
the central European Alps fighting the cold in search of quarry, it
certainly succeeds in a surprisingly cinematic manner.