Boomkat Product Review:
Properly stunning fever-dreamweaving on this new one from sferic, the label behind modern ambient classics by Space Afrika, Perila and Jake Muir, featuring a typically scene-stealing appearance by YL Hooi and occupying an elevated space at the intersection of flickering dub-pop and ASMR soundscaping. If you’re into anything from HTRK to Malibu, Félicia Atkinson to Voice Actor, consider it a major life enhancement.
Zaumne is the alias of Mateusz Olszewski, whose last album could be found on the excellent Mondoj label, home to Antonina Nowacka, Piotr Kurek, Claire Rousay, More Eaze and other likeminded lowercase producers. For his Sferic debut, Zaumne enlists YL Hooi - a constant source of inspiration for many of us here, as well as Metoronori and the muted sax of Patrick Shiroishi. Loosely inspired by Baudelaire’s ‘Flowers of Evil’ (soft spoken extracts of which appear throughout), the album is a sort of exercise in escapism and sensual wandering.
Throughout ‘Parfum’, faded pop is fleshed out with surreal elegance: all flickering neon and half-heard whispers suggestive of blurred late night fantasies; liminal, abstract, and highly evocative. Sounds hang in the air like incense, caressing the senses with an intentionality that's missing from so much landfill ambient. On opening track 'Voyageur’ he sets the scene with pastoral field recordings, dragging a pitched voice and elongated pads through a rhythmic throb that reduces dub techno to a faint knock. There are echoes of music from the fringes of the afterhours club scene too: Andrew Pekler's obscure imaginary landscapes, Jake Muir's druggy bathhouse vapours, DJ Lostboi’s balmy introspection. But despite a shared bleary–eyed aesthetic, Zaumne’s sound is more explicit and well defined, and with it brings a more acute emotional pull.
When YL Hooi appears on 'Sorcières', her voice; drenched in reverb but absolutely crystalline, takes proceedings to a whole other level, reminding us of Natalie Beridze’s perennially overlooked ‘The Wrestler’ from her 2003 album for Thomas Brinkmann’s Max Ernst label; a sort of echo chamber dub perfectly re-imagined as dreampop. A whispered French vocal introduces us to 'Éther', a smoked cloud of looping synths and twinkling bells, and on 'Nymphes’ a wash of pads, wind chimes and waves lapping at the shore somehow manages to swerve all the associated schmaltz you’d imagine and instead gives us the same tingling sensation we had when we first heard Art of Noise’s ‘In Visible Silence’ at dusk, on a beach in the south of France, what seems like forever ago.
There's a ritualistic quality to Zaumne’s music too, as if he's burning rare gums and mosses over smoldering coals in a remote Carpathian clearing. Hikari Okuyama, aka Metoronori, brings her pointed surrealism to 'Ombres', adding a softly spoken wonder to Olszewski's chimes, while Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Patrick Shiroishi contributes horn curliques to 'Prairie', ushering us towards the same sonic space inhabited by Bohren und der Club of Gore and Julee Cruise.
Perfect late night music.