Abul Mogard & Rafael Anton Irisarri – Impossibly Distant, Impossibly Close (Black Knoll, 2024)

I woke up this morning suddenly at about 4am, one of those disorientating rousings that I get on the odd occasion from a light sleep with vivid dreams, but it took me a good 10-15 seconds to remember where I was. Across the haze of my mind, groggily awake, trying to unwrap the dream from woken reality, I thought I was in a different space, different time: psychically and geographically lost.

Eventually I came to, realised that the throbbing helicopter noises from my strange dreams were some unplaceable mechanical beast working away in the docks nearby, and closed the window to drown out the sound to settle back into an unbroken rest before getting up for work. Later in the morning I reflected back on the strangeness of those moments, of how clearly I still remember the dream (uncommon for me) and the confusing sleepy darkness, lost in my own bed.

It seems a careful line is drawn between the conscious and unconscious, a structuring meant to ensure inner stability such that the fuzzy wanderings within don’t stray into the focused clarity of the higher order functions. But sleep blurs those borders at its interfaces with the real world, reminding us of the processing, theĀ weirdness, inside our heads.

This collab is a tale of two halves: literally, there are two near-equal sides. I won’t entirely continue my allegory of “conscious” vs “unconscious” realms onto the music here, it’s not an exact application, but I do find the shifting dronescapes and ponderous textures to be an interesting exploration of that hinterland between spaces.

A-side “Place of Forever” moves with a dragging weight, deep tidal forces at work to slowly but surely heave the convecting sustains from some dark mire up and out where they can shine dimly, oxidise in the air from brief exposure after great time spent submerged. It feels nascent and brooding, drone textures percolating away on these rising currents that bring them dangerously close to complete realisation.

The latter half, “Waking Up Dizzy On A Bastion”, tilts into view by similar mechanisms, its early moments smudged and distal before emerging into clarity on bent guitars. It rides a hopeful tsunami of burgeoning shapeshifting tones that move in perilously slow-motion, forever threatening to break and shatter our time on the lip, riding the surf between two worlds before pitching back into reality.

An album of spacious beauty and drama, somehow it manages to convey the extraordinary sentiments of its title: the notion of the tantalisingly close within yet held at impossible range, an ungraspable thing that seems to dissolve under wakeful scrutiny.