Australian composer, sound artist and Room40 boss Lawrence English‘ latest album is heavy ambience. Weighted all encompassing drones, a soup of incomprehensible instrumentation operating with a dream logic, colliding and collapsing together, evolving and eroding through friction and immense layers of sound. It’s a thing of beauty; a reconceptualisation of what ambient music is or can be. He’ cited the Swans and Earth as influences, who you can hear in the physicality of the music, and though it’s sonically operating on much more of a subtle subconscious cumulative bombardment of the senses, it’s similarly a musical world that engulfs you.
It’s a work that will have you considering the psychoactive role of music, its use in healing, or as a mood stabiliser or destabliser, because from the outset you can tell it’s impacting considerably on your body and mind. Not just in the emotive sense, but in the physical effect of the sonics as well.
It’s beautifully controlled, flowing together like one single immersive piece, the light and dark, the difficult and the sublime all part of the journey. Some ingredients are immense, feeling uncontrolled, these mammoth swells of sound where occasionally hints of harmonic grandeur, or musicality will sweep over the top. There’ a density to the music, where the muscular destructive foreboding of the bottom end is countered with these gentle wisps of melodic fragility, and to be honest it’s when he strips things back and removes the layers of density that the sounds are near heartbreaking. There are whole worlds hidden within each piece, it’s deep highly immersive listening that just consumes you. He recommends it not for headphone listening but on a big old stereo played loud.
The level of dynamic control in particular is astounding, as is the sequencing, but to be honest this is not an album you necessarily ponder and analyse, you just let it do what it’s going to do to you. You’re powerless to stop it anyway. The sheer physicality of the sound, the chaos, the fragility, the density and beauty is so overpowering that it will leave you gasping for air.