Vancouver-based electronic producer Michael Red first introduced his Souns alias with his 2004 EP ‘Lights’, and since then he’s been responsible for several mainly web-only releases under the name, whilst also finding time to work as one half of Canadian duo Chambers and run his own label Low Indigo. Released on Subtempo, ‘Aquamarine’ finally offers up Souns’ long gestating debut album and sees him combining field recordings, digitally treated textures and ambient electronics to create a deeply immersive fusion that lulls as much as it unsettles.
There’s often a sense that you’re traversing through alien landscapes devoid of any recognisably human presence, but at the same time it’s ghostly traces of dub that most frequently haunt the edges of the nine tracks collected here. Personally, I found that the biggest associations being triggered here were with the Mille Plateaux label’s more austere explorations into glitchy dub-ambient, as grainy, occasionally abrasive textures arc against slowly pulsing tones.
‘Echos In The Forest (Part 2)’ opens proceedings with with a languid sweep through soft-focus airy ambient tones that slowly rise and fall in pitch beneath a cloak of grainy digital static, the sound of distantly chiming metallic tones in the background sending chills up the spine as the hazy shifting layers ebb back and forth beneath the speakers.
‘Fade To Light’ offers up what’s initially the most jarring moment here as a dry snapping snare gets timestretched into metallic ripples and thrown through delay, providing the closest thing to rhythmic propulsion here as murmuring arpeggiated tones glimmer in the foreground, before ‘Sun Inside The Sun’ takes things out into deep beatless oceanic dub that carries traces of Basic Channel, as eerie distorted bass flits against reverberating tones, sudden digital crackles looming into the foreground as the entire track seemingly hangs over a bottomless pit of reverb.
It’s ‘Echos And Shadows’ though that most triggers the nervous system here, as insectoid textures scrape against distantly glittering melodic tones that stretch off into the distance, the creeping sense of sub-bass pressure that lurks in the background like a phantom adding an ominous undertone to the slowly cycling layers. Red himself describes this music as ‘power ambient’, and it’s certainly an apt descriptor for the deftly subdued maximality that’s deployed here.