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Artist: Monolyth & Cobalt (@)
Title: Polarlicht
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
I’m never timely enough when Time Released Sound begins to spread the limited deluxe editions of its releases, and the one they made for this album by French sound-artist Mathias Van Eecloo – 65 antique metal 16mm film cans got hand labelled, collaged and stamped together with 10 round hi-res satellite photos of the polar ice caps as well as rounded ones of polar explorers and some of their adventurous chilling voyages – unfortunately sold out at the moment, but some of the 150 copies of digipak edition should be still available. As you can easily guess, “Polarlicht” doesn’t sound tropical at all even if the opening “Polar” could look like the defrosting of the sonic elements that features the album, whose style can approximately be considered a sort of minimal drone-ambient where sounds are more like a tuning to movements of glaciers and icy arctic winds. Even if there’s a reference to Adolf Wolfli – I guess the title of a track “Adolf Wolfi Never Died” could be a clerical error -, “Polarlicht” cannot be considered an epitome of horror vacui, as the sonic sphere is more empty than crammed with unuseful sounds and if you’ve ever been nearby polar regions, you could understand that the sonicbook by Mathias is not so far from the aural perception than you can experience there where silence is sometimes so “dense” than even imagined sound during a migraine could lull you till paregoric reverie. Everything sounds permanently frozen: the slow melodic layering of “Blooming Stones” sounds like coming from gentle touches of the pointer of a multimeters on icy surfaces, the delicate electronic swaying of “Titanium (Geology)” could be a lulling melody inspired by pulses of a metal detector over a floating ice mass and even the appearance of birds on “Flugel Schagen” sounds like anesthetized by soothing anemic sounds which got interrupted by electric interferences and a slamming noise, while their ideal reappearance on “Birds Are Some Holes In The Sky Through A Man Can Pass” (I almost missed this verbose titles in an ambient-oriented record…) seems to belong to a sort of mystical experience. The dreamlike stillness of northern countryside got evoked by the following “Dùthaich (Land, People and Distance Between Them)”, where the three elements inside the brackets are the proper sonic entites of the track, even if the syncopated snoring that he inserted makes me think about the sweet death for a frostbite of a lonely rhubarb farmer, There are some lethargic moments over the album, which could foster a slumber after a square meal, and some of them (“Verhaal 02”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Licht)” seem to be dramatized by means of vocal samples from vintage movies, but they hold together with the rest of the album.

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