Simon Scott follows up his superb full-length for Miasmah, Navigare, with four pieces that were written near the end of the album's sessions but weren't quite finished by the time of its deadline. So if Traba (issued in a run of 500 vinyl copies), which Scott completed at his o3o3o Studio in Cambridge during summer and fall of 2009, sounds like an extension to the album, it's only natural that it should. As before, Scott uses processing techniques to transform field recordings, instrument sounds, and vocals to such radical degrees that one is rarely able to identify the individual components after they've become part of the tracks' immense swells of ambient sound.
“She Came From the Sea” begins the mini-album like a floodgate bursting open. For five minutes, dense masses of processed materials sway, as if in imitation of immense ocean waves, in a powerful headrush whose contents remain largely camouflaged (keening melodies are faintly discernible amidst the crackle and vapours) until the track's closing half-minute when layers peel back to reveal the presence of orchestral elements in all their clarity. In its opening minutes, the slightly less turbulent “The Water Loop” breathes more peacefully as Scott manipulates a Max/MSP-manipulated loop into a lulling reverberant mass of choral design. However, a subtle mood shift occurs halfway through that sees a hint of menace and threat spread across that calm like a virus. The longest piece at eight minutes, “Lamina” (composed while Scott experienced a short bout of tinnitus that led to him having a brain scan) melds processed acoustic instruments with outdoors field recordings and vocal samples into a huge, slow-burning fireball. A ringing drone, suggestive of the tinnitus effect, persists throughout until a tolling bell and gloomy theme announce the arrival of a funeral procession. In Traba's closing track, “An Avalanche,” a droning motif is repeatedly overwhelmed by an immense noise mass yet the tortured drone manages to claw its way back to life over and over again—the musical materials rendering in aural form the tragic events that inspired the piece: having come ashore after months at sea, Scott's uncle, a submarine officer in the British Navy, drank himself to near-death but before doing so was taken to a hospital where he was brought back to life before finally succumbing.
Now that exceptional releases like Navigare and Traba are a part of Scott's discography, maybe the Cambridge-based artist will no longer find himself being identified as an ex-Slowdive drummer but rather as the forward-thinker responsible for such memorable productions, in addition to his role as overseer of the KESH recordings imprint, Seavault member (in partnership with ISAN's Anthony Ryan), and The Sight Below contributor (on stage and to the recent full-length It All Falls Apart).