Quietly extraordinary dream-weaving from crys cole & James Rushford’s Ora Clementi duo, invoking an unpredictable, otherworldly play of light/shadow and top shelf electro-acoustic sorcery comparable with Robert Ashley’s Private Parts, Jane Arden & Jack Bond’s 'Anti-Clock' soundtrack, via Claire Rousay, Perila, early digital GRM.
Sylva Sylvarum’ documents a far more confident Ora Clementi than found on their barely conscious debut ‘Cover You Will Softer Me’ (Penultimate Press, 2014), here exploring a much broader variegation of carefully pruned synths, drum machines and instrumentation threaded with vocals ranging from sibilant whispers to ohrwurming dream-pop croon. In its mazy logic, remarkable levels of sensuality, and substantially satisfying length, the pair effortlessly suspend disbelief for its deep duration, creating a whole dreamworld unto itself that will reward repeated exploration.
Centred around notions of utopias as inspired by various literary texts, such as Francis Bacon’s titular tome of natural histories, cole and Rushford’s music takes its shapeshifting form across 15 parts that diffract time and imaginary space between a mosaic of ephemeral, blink-and-miss beauties such as the Julee Cruise-esque dream-pop of ‘Magic Mountain,’ to animalistic abstractions such as ‘Vulning,’ and more immersive depths of its longest parts, like the dazed avant-blues shimmer of ‘Nowhere Much Narrower,’ and a jaw-dropping 14 minute closing sequence making sterling use of Callum G’Froerer’s trumpet and trombone by Joe O’Connor.
Collected, the 15 tracks transcend the sum of their parts and have the rare power of some records to induce extrasensory feelings associated with microdosing LSD, with artful application of mic recording techniques achieving ASMR levels of skin tingle, and exquisitely warped details that mirror peripheral fractals one minute, and the sensation of looking the wrong way down a telescope the next, always most craftily oscillating a fine limen between lowkey everydayness and gently potent, magick realism.
It’s not really a record for sharing with others; it’s best consumed in private, later at night when the senses are most porous to this kind of ESP and a humbling, wholly absorbing genius.