Colbets – And Silence (Twice Removed Records, 2015)

Layout 1

At the risk of sounding overly blunt in the opening sentence of this piece, I’d almost wished I had listened to silence rather than this record at times. A cumbersome 61 minute Ambient Drone production out of Tokyo, Colbets’s Saitoh Tomohiro and Kari Takemoto have produced something painfully safe in the walls of And Silence, a record that dares not drift out of the easy waters of the habitual and do anything other than retread stale ground. Its tape looped sequences, softly fuzzed electroacoustic instrumentation and thin synth drone lines do nothing more than create a polite and unimpressionable atmosphere across their span that I’ve already heard a dozen times this year.

From the album’s first moments in the gauzy, glittering fog of “Atmosphere” to the gauzy, tinkling fog of closer “Toward The End” very little appears in the way of aural stimulation; instruments come and go, drones ebb and flow, but the entire record seems to lie stagnant and unwilling to move out of its depressing monotonies. “Atmosphere” entrenches these sensations from the beginning, enveloping us in echoic guitar lines and pootling fragments of trumpet coming through the haze of processing; it’s not a bad opener all things considered and it’s got a moodiness and edginess that is at least a source of uncomfortable interest, but as the 20 minute stretch of “Clock Of Weather” looms into view my desire to continue begins to fall rapidly downhill.

Comprised largely of shimmering drone lines and tape loops it slowly becomes more texturally mature and developed as time goes by for sure, slowly becoming more insistent and ensconced with every passing minute, but I don’t see the need for a track of such limited scope and repetitive movements to entertain the time span that it does. It’s monotonous and cumbersome and it’s been the point where I’ve turned the album off on several occasions now. It’s followed by the rather more palatable subtleties of considerably shorter “Leaves Trembling In The Night”, welcoming the cello for the first time (at least in a clear form) in richer and more organic passages that we’ve seen thus far. Fluorescent synths drip through the luxurious drones that pad the piece out and give it a sumptuous and curious air but it still does feel a little unoriginal in the way it’s patterned.

“Mirror” also seems rather unwilling to tread any interesting new ground and wallows in 13 minutes of the same insubstantial tape loops and repetitive instrumentation we’ve become familiar with, that steady tick of some badly joined cassette looping over and over driving me insane. The problem with it, and other aspects of this record as well, is that it just feels really clinical and painfully precise, like each moment has been over thought such that each point lacks any sense of emotional clarity or value. It doesn’t feel organic or spontaneous despite its electroacoustic origins and its reinforcing repetition just serves to aggravate rather than impress. Finally “Toward The End” arrives to release me from its confines, and while its sad violin croons through the twinkling synth and cruising drone as it circles the void, its repetition once more cripples the mood as it fails to invoke any emotional response in its revolving fade away.

I just have to ask what the point is; the album sampler sounded interesting and introspective but the result as a whole is rather dry and unfulfilling. It sounds like a dozen other recent records in this vein but it fails to add a coherent theme to its infinitely precise repetitions, its acoustic instruments slowly losing their potency as time goes on as they become lost in the predictable walls of looped synth and stationary, unambitious drone. It feels consistent enough in its presentation but there’s no foundational theme to concretely bring its explorations together other than perhaps the foggy despondency of living alone or something loosely similar. I didn’t enjoy it which is relatively rare for me but I believe my reservations aren’t wholly unfounded; it’s overwrought and under-feeling and I can’t get into it at all.