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Reviews
Orphax - Drowning In A Pool Of Trees
Friday, May 15 2009 @ 01:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Henry Lauer

Drowning In A Pool Of Trees

Artist: Orphax Netherlands

Title: Drowning In A Pool Of Trees

Label: Self Released

Genre: Ambient

Track Listing:

01 Drowning In A Pool Of Trees



Drowning In A Pool Of Trees begins and ends in some of the most immersive natural environment samples I’ve heard. Birdsong rings out, as the hiss of perhaps rain or wind drifts across our ears. This 24 minute odyssey explores some rich territory and when, at the end, it deposits us back at the beginning its hard to hear this leaf point of departure in the same way.

A live recording reworked into a single track, this release is a drone/ambient piece compiled from field recordings, vocals, electronics (drones, etc) and a melodica sample.

The hazing chants and drones weave together in thick layers of sound, with arch chimes and eerie tones. It is like delving beneath the earth – there is an almost malevolent tone to the music, though it never descends into total darkness.

As such it feels more like a journey through the imagination – this is a great release for headphones in either a dark room or a forest. It conjures images of spirits, ghosts and mysterious life forces: the processed droning vocals in particular provoke such imagery with their mix of organic and electronic feels.

As the track unfolds it manages to somehow get deeper and deeper, falling ever further into subterranean layers of consciousness. What I like about it though is that the layers of sound – in particular the different tonal layers – keep one feeling always still connected to the surface world.

This is quite a feat and at times gives the sensation of psychic or sonic spelunking; or perhaps of deep sea diving with an old school diving bell. At any moment it feels like the forboding weight of the music could explode into pyrotechnics, but the eerie and at times menacing noise never quite gives itself away so easily.

As such it manages to draw the listener into a very eerie and mysterious journey without ever giving away its secrets. This makes it very much a listen and re-listen experience – not a bad feat given the minimalism of the composition!

I also really like the fact that this release is so short. The 24 minute journey, which draws us deep into the heart of some primeval aural forest, is skillfully composed and walks the tightrope between too-short and too-long just masterfully. Orphax has been quite prolific in the elecontric/experimental genre these last few years and is clearly in total control of the art of sound-sculpting.

A beautiful, sometimes slightly chilling, exercise in self-restraint, atmosphere and the judicious selection and use of field recordings.

     


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