Ambient music is a balancing act. Each composition has to reveal the sensibilities of the artist that went into its creation, but also leave enough emotional ambiguity to allow the listener to interact with the work on a personal level. ‘Receding’, London based musician Pascal Savy’s follow up to last years excellent ‘Fragments’ EP, manages this dichotomy with ease, creating a sound world that is at once deeply personal and tantalisingly out of reach.
Continuing where ‘Fragments’ left off, Pascal strips back the original source of these recordings (a piano in an disused windmill in Norfolk) until fragments of that sound remain. This sampled piano is then processed, deconstructed and partially removed, revealing dense, multi-layered compositions, alive with shimmering high frequency pulses, deep, reverberant low end and wonderfully melodic guitar lines which, with the help of some tactile field recordings, weave the compositions together in a beautifully organic matter.
Informed by environmental processes such as rhizome, it is perhaps no surprise that the record abounds with life. Imagine an aural equivalent to watching the formation of an entire hedgerow in time lapsed overdrive and you’re not far off, but it is the relinquishing of control which is most striking. Each minute overture is allowed to strike out independently and to conclusion, allowing highly personal interpretation at each twist and turn.
If this all sounds a little densely populated, it is. But it works. Pascal’s skilful production along with the sensitive mastering treatment from Taylor Deupree, allow individual frequencies to shoot out from the thicket of sound, forming their own counter narratives that resonate and then decay back down to nothing. This process is further strengthened by cross-pollination from one track to the other, which gives new points of departure to each track and continuity to the EP as a whole.
There is a desolate, nostalgic sensibility to these recordings, created by more than just an awareness of their source location. By removing the principle source from its original environment, and carefully reconstructing the sonic traces that remained, Pascal has managed to reinforce a far greater sense of place than the original recordings could ever have managed; a personal, tangible place.
This EP is at once desolate yet comforting, unnerving yet beautiful and from first frequency to final coda, utterly intriguing.
Receding is available as a limited edition of 100 3” CDr + Postcard from Twisted Tree Line.
Review by Ed Hamilton