05 September 2010

Warmth Terminal - getting closer (2010, Hibernate)

Sometimes, "influences" and "sounds like" names can give a clear idea of what a musician is trying to do, offering a spectrum in which he tries to place himself.

Most of the influences of David Lancaster, based in London and South East UK belongs to the main post-rock room but while listening to "Getting Closer", not all make sense. As a reviewer I would keep only names like Brian Eno (his ambient works), Aphex Twin ("Selected Ambient Works vol II"), Stars Of The Lid, The Album Leaf or Riceboy Sleeps, and add a few others like Hammock, Windy and Carl or Rafael Toral ("Sound Mind Sound Body" and "Wave Field").

As the artwork, project name and title of the record suggest it, David Lancaster is offering soundscapes / drone music with a clear tendency towards warm, quiet, radiant and comfortable atmospheres.  Evolving layers of sounds, a few beats in the background sometimes, occasional field recordings and that's it. "Getting Closer" isn't presenting something new or groundbreaking but never pretends to do it too, it's in fact a very humble and sincere work, and successful.

"On that day", the opening track, starts with a mineral, cerulean drone and we already feel like flying through a big open azure sky but more like a bird leaving Europe for Africa, crossing the Mediterranean sea than like a plane. The sea is reflexing the sky, all shades of hazy blue with, with levels and tones rising and decreasing episodically and oxygen and wind on our wings.  After this first part sounding like Rafael Toral works, David Landcaster slowly improves the textures with melodic loops and a rise of speed with euphoric effects that brings back to mind the wonderful first album of Album Leaf even though the sound used are totally different. Amazing how he can mix pure euphoria  with underneath feelings of melancholy. This is a strong composition and the best merit is how it is sufficient by itself, without trying to impress, emotions starts to appear when you really focus on it, feelings of dizzy eights and of a beating, living earth. Maybe the only weak point would be the fade out of the end, as something more brutal like a slow disintegration of textures, a sea landing, would have been a better way to bring us back to ground and make us realize how high we were.

"They sat down and sighed happily" is built on a field recordings of rainfall on the roof of a garden shelter, forming puddles on the ground with their vibrating surfaces full of circular waves. The drones used on this track seem larger and more invasive and wide. There isn't much interaction between the two, mostly overlapping and coexisting. It's still beautiful but I think a lighter drone might have reached more poignant results.   

"It's all round us" is a more classic soundscape, and references to the works of Brian Eno or Harold Budd would not be out of place, maybe with a kind of shoegaze warmth, more about contemplating suspended landscapes, trying to keep the mind empty, like a blank sheet, just to see rising slowly, out of the blue, what really matters, like a return to roots. The success of this track is to make you forgot that you are in fact listening to a piece of music, as slowly you look as much outside at distant views than inside of your soul.  

The terminal track follows, as the previous track, the same concept, giving priority to substance over experience (while the first track was achieving the contrary).  In an Eno-esque perspective, Warmth Terminal envelops us with an hyptnotizing skin of sound as a wet suit for a deep scuba diving.

"Getting Closer" is a successful debut album, not perfect but showing a coherent sensitivity, thoroughness and a nice artistic will.

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