The solo project of Adelaide musician Jason Sweeney (Pretty Boy Crossover/ Mist & Sea) is Panoptique Electrical. He has released a couple of beautiful ambient albums on Melbourne’s Sensory Projects and is now releasing his work on Greek label Sound in Silence. Last year they issued his remarkable collaboration with Hood and Declining Winter’s Richard Adams as Great Panoptique Winter – something of an understated opus.
Like his previous solo offerings, Disappearing Music For Face merges sparse electronics and piano. It’s gentle and atmospheric, uncluttered, allowing plenty of space for the instruments to reverberate and ring out. It’s a truly unique amalgamation, modern classical meets ambient electronics that isn’t afraid to periodically flip the script getting all snare happy ‘In A Forest Forlorn’, crafting curiously sad pastoral party banger – probably a combination of words you’d never have expected to see together.
Piano is the spine here, subdued and repetitive, existing in a real space, with gentle evocative chords that he will often augment with electronics – and it’s this mix between the tangible old world and more modern synthesis that is so fascinating. Rarely have the two been harnessed together so seamlessly, particularly with such minimal ingredients. He uses deep electronic bass, skittering electrics, and even some patches that would feel more at home in a nu wave band. Yet it works.
On this album more than its predecessors he’s more willing to shatter the mood he’s so painstakingly built, such as on ‘A Minor Breakdown’, where he offers an immense driving synthscape, that’s loud long and hypnotic, later on ‘Near Life’ with it’s booming bass and tentative piano it sounds like two worlds colliding and ‘Smile Fades Forever’, the album closer is almost aggressive ambience. It demonstrates Sweeney’s development of the project – not necessarily feeling the need to enforce strict mood coherence these days. It makes for an eclectic, and even challenging album that still maintains its reflective mood. Yet it’s also an album that moves beyond any simplistic notion of ambience, and embraces something considerably more complex and rewarding.