Pleq + Hiroki Sasajima: Witch-hunt
Strom Noir: Famadihana
Three prototypical releases from taâlem remind of us the manifold pleasures the label's ambient-styled three-inch offerings provide. The most recent of the three, a single-track collaboration between Pleq (prolific ambient-soundscaper Bartosz Dziadosz) and Japanese field recordist Hiroki Sasajima, assumes a somewhat macabre character, given its Witch-Hunt title and its accompanying “Dedicated to all witches” note. In truth, the twenty-four-minute dronescape isn't dramatically different from others of its ilk, though it certainly is engaging. The merging of Sasajima's field recordings detail with Dziadosz's impenetrably dense textural swaths makes for a reverberant, rolling cloud mass of mist-covered industrial-ambient material that's as immense as it is immersive.
Like Witch-Hunt, Nobuto Suda's Twilight Garden is a single-track release that stretches out for twenty-four minutes. And though both recordings fit comfortably within the ambient-drone tradition, the key difference is one of mood: in contrast to the gloomy earthiness of Witch-Hunt, Twilight Garden opts for soundsculpting of a more serene disposition. Suda's ethereal material drifts high above the earth's surface, its blurry content in constant motion. Still, while the effect is far from unpleasant, the material fixates a bit too much on a single pitch to these ears, and the unvarying quality of the piece makes it less captivating than Witch-Hunt, which by comparison seems to always be undergoing some degree of transformation, no matter how small.Strom Noir is the moniker adopted by Bratislavia, Slovakia-based Emil Mat'ko who's released material on Hibernate, Rural Colours, and U-cover, among others. Famadihana actually returns us to the disturbing subject matter associated with Witch-Hunt, as the term “famadihana” refers to a funerary tradition associated with the Malagasy people in Madagascar whereby people exhume their ancestors' bodies from family crypts, re-wrap them in fresh cloth, and then dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music—not that any of that's necessarily conveyed by the music itself, which Mat'ko largely presents as peaceful guitar-generated dronescapes of rich textural depth. The release features three settings of gradually increasing length (five, seven, and eleven minutes, to be precise), with the longest one broadening out the Strom Noir sound to work nature-based field recordings (bird sounds, specifically) into its billowing, quasi-symphonic soundworld.