Boomkat Product Review:
The Pacific Ocean provides an infinite muse to Sydney’s Alexandra Spence in her poetic evocation of its unfathomable expanse and humanity’s relationship to it.
Initially conceived as a commission for Glasgow’s Radiophrenia Festival, ‘a veil, the sea’ arrives in the wake of Spence’s albums for Room40, and her Matthew Hopkins collaboration in 2021, with a finely layered melange of field recordings, spoken word, and electronics that sensitively limn her subject.
In Spence’s vision the Pacific Ocean connotes a mix of atavistic, melancholy, and weightless feelings as the 30 minute piece proceeds from concrète shoreside sampling to sonorous basses and wistful pads threaded with her vocals, variously found low in the mix or closer to the surface on the first part ‘a veil’. In its second part the piece becomes more fraught with dread, manifest in the sound of creaking plastics and harsher, gurgling electro-acoustic hydrophonic tones that give way to tense electronics and radio static, clearly pointing to a more pessimistic perspective on the ocean’s future fate, and, by turns, ours.