Boomkat Product Review:
Absolute head melter here from Sam Dunscombe, who follows the killer 'Outside Ludlow / Desert Disco' with another vital set, this time using detailed field recordings and subtle digital synthesis to provide a healing soundtrack that's far from the new age/ambient standard. Uncanny and tonally literate, it's a fathoms deep hallucination that'd give Irv Teibel a run for his money.
Berlin-based sound artist Dunscombe has been involved in researching the role music can have in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, and has written these two lengthy "spatio-environmental sonic experiences" to give assistance to therapists in search of sounds that don't take the casual route. That means no syrupy new age slop then, we'd guess. Inspired by Romanian spectralist Horatiu Radulescu and field recordist Irv Tiebel (who concocted the enduring 'environments' series of LPs), Dunscombe scientifically processed environmental recordings, analyzing the latent pitch data to generate a Just Intonation pitch set. The resulting side-long pieces blend these elements together to create virtual worlds that the pliant mind can wander within - safe but expansive, and surprising without being jarring.
'Two Forests' starts us off in central California, with the sounds of a sequoia grove sliced, delayed and granulated so deceptively that you almost don't perceive the changes. Birdsong is ever so slightly smudged, and insect chirps are transformed into illusory traces that only emerge if you're listening deeply and intently. But it's Dunscombe's tonal content that really has us weak-kneed; there are digitized, almost bell-like sounds far off in the distance, behind the rustling trees and warbling birds. Dunscombe's use of Just Intonation isn't showy, it's naturalistic, playing with our expectations and tapping into the unifying properties of simplified, whole-number ratios. These tonal variations aren't ambient in any sense, but they add a layer of warmth and mystery to the piece that's only intensified by psychedelics. And as the track develops, California morphs into Manaus, Brazil, and we find ourselves suddenly in the Amazon rainforest.
Dunscombe layers a repository of beachside recordings on 'Oceanic', and at first the phantasmagorical tonal content is far more stark than on its predecessor. Tidal rhythms lock into the synthetic pulses, and the track swells and exhales, turning the peaceful washes into frothy white noise. It's calming, but not narcotic - this is music that's intended to promote deep thought, not sleep. And in a cultural landscape filled with snake oil salespeople claiming healing music as their own, it's honestly refreshing to hear work that's been so meticulously pruned with a specific experience in mind. These two tracks have the power to shepherd the brain into surprising places, whether you're a tab deep or not. Startling stuff.