Boomkat Product Review:
Dom Fernow and Philippe Hallais (Low Jack) pipe hyperreal environmental recordings thru glassy digital FX on this anti-exotica, dub-bient fantasea. Chillingly sparse, world-building atmospherics and anxious sensuality for fans of Pendant, Talk Talk, Higher Intelligence Agency, Malibu or Kelman Duran.
If you caught Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement live in the months before lockdown, chances are you noticed that Fernow's sub-aquatic dub ambient project had been expanded to include Hallais. Thankfully, they managed to dip into the studio before retreating into their respective dens and recorded "Flying Fish Ambience", a focused, sub-heavy follow-up to 2017's acclaimed "Ambient Black Magic". The core sound is still intact: waterlogged canned field recordings of storms, washing waters and tropical rainfall punctuated with swirling digital synths, endless subs and an abundance of digital delay. But Hallais coaxes out a focus and fidelity that elevates the RSE sound to another level completely.
By dialing in his dub expertise, he steers Fernow's evocative soundscapes into purely sensual locales. The mood is still dark, but now it's anxious and surreal. The duo's choice of sounds is key, as they hold up a middle finger to petty synth fetishism and harness an aesthetic universe that suggests an abandoned aquarium outlet in a forgotten skymall. Each sound is almost oppressively plastic, and Hallais and Fernow use this to reflect the inverse of exotica. This isn't an island-hopping commentary on far-off lands, it's a sly subversion of our collapsed world's attempt to mimic the "exotic" and retail it wholesale.
The title track is a slippery dubwise k-hole, all stuttered synth voices and 4D water droplets. It's like hearing the quieter moments of Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden" replayed using a budget General MIDI sound module: alluring, but faintly terrifying simultaneously. 'Rains Coming Down' featuring Pacific Blue is even better, with Vainqueur-esque synths and crashing waves building into a reeling pit of rubbery bass and blunted pads that reminds us of Kimmo Rapatti aka Mono Junk’s uber-classique ‘Channel B’ - one of the greatest, most vibrant and low-swung dub techno productions of all time.
The duo reach their peak on 'Snake Head Cemetery', bringing careful, subtle percussion into the mix and hinting at vintage dub, new age and terrifying dark ambience. It's exceptional music that expands Fernow's ongoing themes into IMAX levels of precision, and an ideal soundtrack to 2021's absurd attempt to rebuild a broken commercial landscape. Remarkable stuff.