Pairing classical instruments with field recordings and laptops is nothing new, but the Italian trio Herion coaxes whole restful expanses from the combination on this album, aided also by the violist Piergabriele Mancuso. The understated playing and even more ghostly textures take the form of everything from a soft and distant swell to a looming shadow to a natural, wind-like drift. It’s somewhere between classical and ambient, but with a experimental edge that isn’t commonly heard in either genre.
Although the more substantial viola tends to slice through the rich openness, the musicians approach is always changing. That makes it hard to pin these songs down, but that’s an urge you should resist anyway: as with the best ambient music, it’s best to simply sit back and experience what’s happening. There’s a lovely shivering quality to “Lindos” and the more enveloping ‘The Earth’, while “Cab” employs a melodica far more sweetly than usual. The low-hung synth of “One Minute After the Sunset” evokes the song’s title image well, “Moske Orgulje” hits upon some almost subliminal repetition, and the shorter “The Hanging Glacier” twitches with halted breath, bells, and other random sounds. And true to its name, “Solo” seems to feature just an isolated piano.
All of these subtle shades are forecast in the eight-minute opener “Oxg”, a sort of defining statement for the album. There’s a lot to love here, and meticulous new details emerge all the time.