The simply beauty of tape hiss and crackle is something that Seoul-based multimedia artist Fescal does nothing to try and hide away from the world in 'Moods and Views' in which, in his second release of the year, a moment is reshaped into fifty five minutes of ambient beauty. Fescal's approach to his music is made perfectly clear by looking at the nature of 'Moods and Views''s physical release; all fifty copies of the cd (released on Twice Removed Records) contain a personal note from himself about the album, and come encased in handmade covers containing individually made flowers created from traditional Korean paper and fragrant oils - exhibiting the level of detail put into every one of Fescal's artistic ventures.
Whilst perhaps initially sonically comparable to releases such as Celer's 'Mane Blooms' or even some Jannick Schou, 'Moods and Views' acts instead almost as a meditative aid - instead of fleeting (if beautiful) glimpses of life through Long and Schou's eyes, the listener in this instance is completely subsumed into the record, guided beautifully by the initially organic layers of ambience into another place entirely, and then simply ʻdroppedʼ there.
'Moods and Views', although one continuous track, is interestingly almost traditionally arranged as to be the ʻAʼ and ʻBʼ side of a vinyl record - with the first 'side' being the blissful twenty eight minutes beginning the release, before dropping into what is most definitely the darker twin of what has been heard so far. Although still beautiful, this latter half of the record is definitely far darker, with sounds of clattering industry and deep, low-voltage bass tones at points offsetting the still present melodic elements, which themselves are perhaps more readily-identifiable than their 'side A' predecessors as processed guitar.
Indeed, the dichotomy present in the sound of the release could be a reflection on nature of Fescal's surroundings; a sonic nod towards South Korea's past and recent industrialisation, as well as the often tension-filled lives that those living on the border inevitably end up living. Yet even when one puts this rich contextual material aside, 'Views and Moods' is a release that champions all that an ambient record should be; immersive and captivating, but still elusive and not completely understandable.
Review by Max Hampshire