Boomkat Product Review:
The Portable Archive reissues three volumes of Thomas Shrubsole’s humbly absorbing ambient studies/contemplations on soil dynamics, which were recorded as Sub Loam and originally released on the cult Cotton Goods label between 2009-2010, and are now teamed with an equivalent amount of unreleased pieces made over the same period. Big Recommendation if you followed the Cotton Goods label, or if you're into the ambient side of works by Move D, Jan Jelinek, To Rococo Rot etc.
First and foremost it’s lovely to be immersed back into the project, whose naturally textured and decaying structures emerged as quietly as they dissolved back at the turn of this decade, finding good company amidst the rustle and hum of Cotton Goods and, in a way, could be said to preempt the focus of FIS’ research in similar, if noisier, rugged terrain on his From Patterns to Details album.
No mistake, though; Sub Loam’s music is endearingly tactile and better defined by its textured, nuanced fidelity: Shrubsole handles his material like an environmental researcher or botanist making sketches on his rambles, offering poetic observations on the interactions of organic matter with “ditches, hedgerows, alleys, pavements and hill tops” modelled with an electro-acoustic palette and tape loops that quietly represent his subject’s subterranean root systems and intuitive sprawl in a series of concentric spirals and microtonal whorls.
Within his chloro-centric weltanschauung, Sub Loam divines the music of “rhythmic footfall, creeping rootstock, vaporous billows, transformational marginalia” in an esoteric yet tangible way that should sweetly resonate with anyone who appreciates the ebb and flow or warp and weft of nature on the smaller scales, as well as its larger form landscapes, and who can appreciate the same within the parameters of ambient music.
A beautiful package.