Boomkat Product Review:
Hallow Ground invites label regulars Maria W Horn, Siavash Amini, FUJI||||||||||TA and Lawrence English to join newcomers Magda Drozd, Valentina Magaletti and others in celebrating sonic epiphanies. Spiritual stuff, from beginning to end - electro-acoustic studies of ancient and modern discipline.
It's fitting that label boss Remo Seeland opens this sprawling set of interwoven tracks with an ambitious collaboration with Laya Ensemble. Reading the album's dense press release it's difficult to grasp the compilation's theme - Seeland wanted all involved artists to consider not only their artistic processes but also the instruments they use, and sets an example by studying the depth of Laya Ensemble's acoustics, blurring the line between real instrumentation and synthesized electronics. The noise he manages to create falls somewhere between the meditative deep listening of Pauline Oliveros or even Hallowed Ground alum Kali Malone, and the ominous ferric noise of David Lynch collaborator Dean Hurley.
From here we're launched into a cut-n-paste fever dream of experiments, ideas and expressions that quickly impresses with tracks like Maria W Horn's spine-chilling 'Oinones Death, Pt. I' and FUJI||||||||||TA's dilated 'Kumo'. Horn's track is particularly sticky, sounding like church organ but actually constructed from contrabass recorder sounds, twinned with the eerie high-pitched fluctuations of pitched glass tones for maximum off-world giddiness. But don't fret church organ fans, Lawrence English continues his examination of the instrument, following his ace "Observation of Breath" full-length, with blustery microtonal ritual 'Outside the City of God (Augustine wept)', that sounds thematically lashed to Debit's recent "The Long Count" missive.
It's at this point in 'Epiphanies' that we had a moment of realization ourselves, finally properly grasping the compilation's weighty theme. There's not a duff track out of the entire 16, each piece does a brilliant job of exploring not only the artist's creative motivation but also prompts intriguing reconsiderations of their respective sound palettes. Laurin Huber's 'Puolipilvistä' (Partly Cloudy) is a fusion of sopping wet environmental recordings, distant sine tones and wooden clanks, Norman Westberg's 'For Alice' takes the dreampop template and simultaneously makes it cavernous and haunted, while Siavash Amini lavishes spectral microtonal electronics across doomed acoustic strings. Line alum Miki Yui's 'Alternatio' is our pick of the bunch, making an awful a lot out of bare components by concentrating on the emotional resonance of dreamy, echoed plucks.
If you're into electro-acoustic music that forgoes stuffy academia in favor of real-world chaos, tangible history and self-reflection, this one's a keeper.