Dig The Slowness

Adrian Shenton and Banks Bailey
Unseen Landscapes

Do you ever get the feeling that time is speeding up? That the days of your life have turned into hours, the hours into minutes, the minutes into seconds? Haunted by the sense that the whole of time and space are sliding into the black hole at the centre of our galaxy at an ever-increasing rate? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that the antidote is at hand, on this second collaboration between Phonospheric boss Adrian Shenton and Arizonan sound recordist/musician Banks Bailey.

Two long crepuscular soundscapes, then, both hypnagogic and hypnopompic in character, as the duo evoke “The Falling Night” and “The Rising Day”. Both tracks are created from field recordings made in the USA and electronically processed back home in the UK. Shenton uses the word “embellished”, which fits in with Phonospheric’s cottage industry, hand-crafted approach to releasing albums.

“The Falling Night” comes in with a susurrus of nocturnal creatures, insects and/or amphibians, desolate yet strangely comforting. This forms the base for an enamelling of electronic sound – sub-bass vibrations ascending to full-on, spaceship engine throbs, shifting drones, and, at about eight minutes in, something that sounds like somebody hyperventilating. Perhaps a last little spasm of anxiety before the blessed release of sleep.

“The Rising Day” opens with a looped blend of dawn chorus and trickling water – a sound that should always be used with caution, if you want to avoid unfortunate diuretic effects, but which is successfully deployed here. The electronics are more subtle on this track, shifting and unfolding beneath the surface. You start to get a sense that all of the sounds are conforming to a fantastically complex pattern that remains tantalisingly just out of reach, like the hidden structures in the chaotic systems of weather or water turbulence.

This is ambient music in the broadest sense, in that it provides an atmosphere in which to immerse yourself, but it’s certainly not musical wallpaper. As you listen to this album, time itself seems to slow down and stand still. Indeed, you may feel as if you’ve stepped up into a higher dimension altogether, from which it’s possible to perceive all of time and all of the events that happen within it at once. Then the CD ends and you’re back in linear time, 35 minutes and 33 seconds into your own future.

Adrian Shenton has built Phonospheric Records into a quiet little powerhouse of experimental music, one limited edition release at a time. Unseen Landscapes is a fine addition to the catalogue.