Abul Mogard – Circular Forms (Ecstatic, 2015)


Given that it’s been a little while since my last review and Mogard simply happened to have released a new album in the meantime, I thought it might be a nice idea to gear myself back into the swing of things with something moderately familiar. That being said, Circular Forms and The Sky Had Vanished are not records that could be considered wholly similar; Vanished and its long form dronescapes find themselves a little at odds with Circular Forms‘s more bitesized and deeply restrained musical chunks.

The powerful self-searching and slowly evolving introspections are not lost though, and this is apparent right from the off with opener “Slate Coloured Storm” and its heavily tempered and restrained beginnings, rolling into view in the same fashion as the grey clouds of its namesake, pristine heavenly emptiness traded for deep and distant obfuscation. It slowly gathers itself together in unifying passages of processed guitar and washes of drone but it never reaches criticality, never becoming anything other than a vaguely menacing and distantly moody intrusion into the peace of an unfettered sky, a miserable harbinger content to mope overhead. This ethereal blockade finds itself developing certain anxieties in follow up track “Bound Universe”, a piece lost in a roiling mass of oscillating synth bubbles and restraining buzzing tones. The track slowly edges forward into the light of understanding, becoming clearer as it progresses and the synth warbles becoming more distinct and urgent in the face of these discoveries.

The piece is filled with probing and exploratory atmospheres, scanning for observable edges and whilst never reaching the redline always seems to be aware of some vague and abject sense of limitation and ambiguous imposition, the music leaving a hanging sense of imperceptible emptiness at the corners. Perhaps it’s better that we don’t know and we try to leave these confusions behind us, as “Half Light Of Dawn” begins to move into more casual and relaxed sequences. Analogue synths croon in the dim and sparse air, slow migrations of sound that cling to the edges of the previously established disquiet that present a calm and collected exterior but a tumultuous and emotionally complicated lurks just below the surface. It feels unsettled, its mind never at rest even in the deep lull of the pre-dawn day.

Further and more concerted attempts at finding some sense of solace are developed in the gigantic 16 minute closer “House On The River”; at almost half the runtime of the album on its own it obviously completely dwarfs the other pieces in its length but it feels appropriate, accurately highlighting the disparity between unsettled and quiescent minds and the ease at which one is disrupted, the difficulty in restoring that same mind to peace. It’s a slow burner for sure, finding its way in each measured and plodding step of its languid drones and lightweight percussive propulsion, billowing slowly into a scarcely detectable climax of gentle and elongate catharsis before simmering slowly down, its drone excitations drifting away into circular tappings.

This record is difficult to find now since its limited physical run has ended but if you’re able to find a digital version I would definitely recommend this, especially if you already have some familiarity with Mogard’s work; intimate, minutely detailed and emotionally intelligent.