Still Harbours – Fluorochrome (Ambientologist, 2020)

There’s something fascinating about fluorescence in nature, the chemical and physical processes that cause substances to re-emit absorbed light at a different wavelength. They have taken in this external energy, modified it internally, and ejected it in a changed state. It’s intriguing both from the scientific and technical background that causes this property to arise, and also in its aesthetic qualities: fluids glow in bright and vibrant hues, rocks and minerals emanate a strange kaleidoscope of colours, hidden materials come to life under UV lights.

It is a process of excitation and alteration, of spooky action occurring at an unseen but intrinsic, structural level. And do we not do the same thing as we move through life? Do events not occur around us, to us, that we absorb mentally and then re-emit in our actions and words? I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the effect art and politics has upon us as we explore the world and others, the way that we filter and integrate these things through and into our subconscious, subsequently modifying our own effusions.

What strikes me most about Fluorochrome is that much of it possesses a plaintive tone, and if not plaintive then simply indifferent. Most of the energy that it seems to absorb from its surroundings feels distant and detached, a humming and indiscriminate fabric that permeates life with dispassionate events. What is crucial however, is that this apparent pointlessness has an intrinsic but unforeseen value.

Take “Cloudless Skies”: guitar is mulched into a timeless drone lake that manages to sustain and collapse itself in equal measure. Notes hover and swell, then dim and dive, moving to the flow of an imperceptible force. It is the shape of a vista spilling out ahead and above us, perfect in its absence: at once, there is something remarkable in the unremarkable. Why is there beauty in the lack of weather, and why does this affect us so?

There are darker currents to be found in the suggestively titled “Valley of the Kings” and “Walk Among Giants”. The latter is the longest piece here, a slow crawl of crooning and circular guitar migrating into eked out drone lines. It feels thin and ethereal, like the desert at night or some mid-western American mesa or canyon at twilight, a world of stark grandeur. Perhaps even of the cold unreality of the urban jungle, unsympathetic monoliths of steel and glass and concrete rising out of the poor Earth. Desolate wastes all, on the surface, but all imbibed with a power in their scale either natural or egotistical bravado.

It isn’t until we hit the brevity of “Ruminate” that the tide begins to turn. Here, following a brief intermission that allows for pause and respite in its suspended drones, is where hope forms. Despite its curtained atmospherics that contain shimmering depths of possibility, a sense of the fluorescence emerges. The filtration process has worked its way through the fabric of us, trickling through the neurons to conclusion.

There is a force for good in this ambivalent universe, and it is us.

“Mist Under The Animation” positively oscillates with activity compared to its predecessors, radiating light in its strafing synths through the static washes and vocal coos that cast such spectral airs. It leads into closing “Atmos” which, though somewhat more rarified, carries a warmth that has insidiously grown from within. It is subtle but the character shift is there, a migration of wavelength signifying the shift from absorption to radiation.

There’s a new light now, a new tone, and it comes from within. Beauty lies not in the things we see or the places we visit or the experiences we have, but in how we perceive them and fluoresce in those moments. Make them make you different.