Cinchel – Nature Pt.1 (Twice Removed Records, 2014)


There exists a certain difficulty within Ambient and Drone music, I feel, in regards to taking the music beyond acceptable limits accidentally, eaking out more sound and keeping tracks spinning out for longer than is really required. Admittedly this isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to these genres but when you’re working in a loosely defined sonic environment with elongate tracts of drone it can be difficult to know where to draw the line and bring things to a logical conclusion, and as expansive and consuming as Cinchel’s organic Nature is, I can’t help but feel that some rather lengthy swathes of its 56 minute span could have been axed for the sake of being concise to no ill effect.

That being said, I don’t think every one of the album’s four tracks deserves that treatment; the gorgeous opener “The Forest” is a hauntingly evolving number that slowly descends into the labyrinthine mass of trees, migrating from still and dense guitar drones into ethereal glockenspiel twinklings as we get further and further into its heart. What was awe turns slowly to fear and confusion, its delicate movements lost in an endless mass of glistening leaves and shimmering streams, but none familiar and helpful as an aid to escape. Its logical successor “A Leaf” is somewhat less efficient, although remaining undeniably beautiful in its construction; abandoning the scary and imposing scale of the forest, we obsess over the minutiae of its lifeblood by bringing back the idiosyncratic glockenspiel tappings in crushingly repetitive style, only moving away on the bed of a few light drones in its closing few minutes as our gaze turns. As wonderfully fragile and minimalistic as it is, I can’t help but feel that its runtime could have been safely halved (to perhaps 4 or 5 minutes) to avoid some of its aimlessness.

The second half the album moves away from the leaves and trees to focus on a wholly more watery side of nature, and it and the album as a whole is dominated by the extensive 26 minute piece “The River”. While it unfurls in unquestionably languid and luxurious tracts of graceful guitar drones and infrequent drum machine rolls as the course meets certain obstacles, it’s surprisingly unimaginative and scarcely evolving across its course; twists and turns exist but the variety is lacking and whilst the scope matches the awesome scale of its subject I can’t help but feel like other albums like Saaad’s Confluences have outlined the evolution and intimate details in a shorter span and with more finesse. Closer “Letting It Rain” is a refreshing and fragile piece that relies heavily on the glockenspiel once again to create its rain-simulating atmospherics, tinkling and shimmering its way across 9 sparse minutes. Again it’s a little repetitive and idiosyncratic but it works well and creates a nice juxtaposition, propagating this idea of the little crucially feeding the big.

While I applaud Cinchel’s simplicity and clarity of production, I think there’s definitely a sense of murkiness when it comes down to the expression of the subject matter and their long-winded and perhaps even excessive approach sonically. All the tracks just seem to fade away inconsequentially and unsatisfyingly to black, leaving us feeling loose and ill-defined and a bit tired after slogging our way through their repeated and idiosyncratic tracts. It’s great for background listening and I’ve put it on while focusing strongly on other things multiple times, but it begins to feel a little disappointingly shallow upon closer inspection.