Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lacus Somniorum - Tideshaper (2008)

Named for a lunar plain, Lacus Somniorum (i.e. 'Lake of Sleep') is a two-piece ambient collaboration between Gustaf Hildebrand of Sweden and Amanda Votta of Canada. It's a great debut, and Tideshaper is one of the more breathtaking pieces of atmospheric music I've heard this year.

Like all good ambient, this thrives on subtleties. There are no dominant melodies flowing through the eight tracks, just brilliant and distant soundscapes with the occasional, haunting accompaniment of Votta's flute and voice. The title track feels like a hidden, menacing force which conducts the delicate natural balance of the ocean in the underlying space between perception. "An Intangible World" is like the first discovery of some ancient civilization which spells dread and doom for humanity. "Hinterland" conveyed through me the feel of some solitary team of astronauts crossing a barren alien landscape, perhaps a mountainous region to only discover a vast and unexplored trace of long dead empire. "Beyond All Things is the Ocean" feels like the last broken rays of the moon shining through murky waters on the ruins of Atlantis. I've only covered half the album, but this is already enough that you ambiphiles (did I make that up?) can get a running start to check it out. My favorite track here, "Sentient Abyss" is a disturbing and dense vision of what is watching us all.

Again, these interpretations of the instrumental themes are mine alone, but they do fall in line with the apparent m.o. of the duo. The fact that I am free to associate them is one of the reasons I am so enraptured with ambient music as a whole. Lacus Somniorum is off to a great start and I hope they produce more themes in the future, whether similar or treading different tonal paths. I'm still trying to place the coordinates in the song title "11 22 N 14 36 E" if anyone can help I'd be fascinated to know.

Verdict: Epic Win (9/10)


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