It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster these past 10 days where I haven’t been posting, filled with deadlines and workloads and drunk nights. Rest assured there is a backlog, this album being one of them, but I decided I wanted to write about an album that I found a bit more relatable, a bit more relevant to these recent days. Segue released an album at the start of the year, Pacifica, a Dub Techno affair with a strong sub-tropical, downtempo vibe, and I was expecting something similar from this release as well, but was pleasantly surprised to find a much more sparse, Ambient dominated album creeping out of the mix.
We open with “Centrifuge”, a track that perfectly sets the mood for the album to follow. It cruises effortlessly on a slowly climbing bed of Loscil reminiscent drone, shimmering beams of wavering light to accompany the unusual oscillations of some softly shaken instrument, like a glass filled with sand, this little abrasive current of shushing sound counterbalancing the mournful and slow procession of drones proceeding below. It’s contents are clearly separated and indeed separating throughout the course of the track, the only two facets of the sound becoming increasingly distinct from one another as they whirl around the machine. “Winter Warm” takes a different track and begins to pad out the soundstage a little bit, with bleary images of distant waves crashing amidst equally reverb-drenched tolling synth notes. The air is heavy and cold but there is a personal warmth and sense of security here as we watch the waves crash on the beach huddled in our coats under an overcast sky.
“Karma” brings back powerful Loscil vibes once again, reminiscent of his Plume days with this barely evolving, hazy piece; as beautiful as it is, it is somewhat unremarkable. Thin textures slowly circle the plughole, wrapping those piercing synth drone notes once again over one another, the warmer undertones buried away and married to a lo-fi underbelly filled with light glitches, cracks and pops in the uneven surface. It goes away pretty quickly though into my favourite and longest track of the album “Be The Enemy Of The Bad”. It proceeds carefully, hesitantly, slowly building a delicate loop from something akin to one of those little toyboxes, assisted by some far removed rustling and scrapings, a figure circling in the backfield, not willing to come closer. This war of attrition is not won alone however and eventually we’re assisted with the return of denser accompanying drone sequences to pad the track out and give it some help. The eventual crescendo never really arrives but the point has been made as the forceful organic instrumentation eventually overshadows everything with its assertion before it slowly backs out.
The appropriately titled “Sublime” begins to diffuse some of the tension building up through the mid-album. It’s difficult to describe as the track begins to take hold; warm drone currents wash away the thoughtless repetition of the last track and replace it with a new and comforting message. It becomes a sheltered haven of delicate instrument fragments and towards its closing moments the slow strokes and picks of an acoustic guitar help round off the optimistic vibe and cosy atmosphere set out before us. The followup “Taken” is positively the most lightweight, even upbeat, track of the album, it’s guitar returning once more to create a more jovial atmosphere alongside birdsong snippets and warm stringed drones. Like “Winter Warm” it mirrors the concept of the Winter but throws a warmer, softer light on otherwise grey proceedings as we actually grow the enjoy the cold and wet days where we have to remain indoors, contented, not doing anything.
The final track of the album lands on the mysteriously titled “Morally Subsidised”, featuring the well known IDM artist Pleq. Compared to the album that has led up to its closing moments, “Morally Subsidised” is a surprisingly stark closer, losing some of the throes of reverb and ethereal drone and replacing them with more crisp electronic tolls and glitch swathes running intermittently up through the track like bubbles of energy in this otherwise rather quiet and cold system. That being said it’s not devoid of character and still leads us on with the same minimal progression as the rest of the lot.
Blue may not be the album that will leap to the forefront of many people’s minds when they think of the more memorable albums of the year, not even for myself, but it’s a nice and uncomplicated listening experience without expectation and fuss. There is a temptation to call its bare-boned, careful progressions boring, and I can see the reasoning, but I like the intimate attitudes and attention to detail this album clearly details. Love went into crafting this, to get us to remember the peace and solace in the impending Winter nights that we’ve forgotten about since last year’s. We might find ourselves torn and somewhat melancholy about the prospect but try to remember the crisp air and long nights this album evokes, and the homely warmth that accompanies it.