Greg Osby
Spotlight 16

Leila Abdul-Rauf
James Blackshaw
David Borden
Build Buildings
Corey Dargel
Tom Flaherty
Fogh Depot
Bjørn Fongaard
Nick Gill
Chihei Hatakeyama
High aura'd & Mike Shiflet
Map 165
Maranha & Espvall
Missy Mazzoli
Jonas Munk
Pearson Sound
Michael Price
PRISM Quartet
Michael Robinson
Sankt Otten
The Sebastians
Sigtryggur Sigmarsson
Matteo Sommacal
Sphäre Sechs
To Destroy A City
Tudor Acid
Mark Vernon
Michael Vincent Waller

Compilations / Mixes
Supafunkanova Vol. 2

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Alex Agore
Aux Field
Future Ghost
Jim Haynes
Sacco / Lapiana
Marshall Watson

Sphäre Sechs: Enceladus
Malignant Records

If you've visited Paris, you might be familiar with the city's underground catacombs, one of its more macabre tourist attractions. Lined with the skull-like remains of approximately six million people, the caverns and tunnels act as a shadowy counterpart to the fashionable streets above ground. And what does any of this have to with Sphäre Sechs' Enceladus? Simply that listening to the seven-part work, which Martin Stürtzer and Christian Stritzel generated solely using analog equipment without the aid of computers, often feels as if the duo found a way to transcribe the experience of touring that crypt into sound form. Throughout the fifty-three-minute recording, Sphäre Sechs' tones advance and retreat, their fluctuations in volume similar in effect to the way a catacombs visitor might move in close to a skull formation for a better inspection before pulling back in mock-horror.

Admittedly, the visual analogue just presented is in one sense entirely off-base, given that Enceladus is the name of the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, a detail that implies that the recording's content is actually intended to evoke the idea of a journey to a distant realm in space as opposed to an earthly one below ground. At the same time, Sphäre Sechs' dark ambient dronescaping is abstract and open-ended enough to accommodate any number of interpretive projections. To these ears it's just as easy to hear Enceladus as a space voyage as it is a subterranean exploration. And though it's not a sound we haven't heard done by others before, Stürtzer and Stritzel offer a perfectly credible take on it.

In contrast to the rawness that sometimes characterizes ambient drones, the two prefer a clean presentation that's generally free of corrosion and noise. They effectively conjure the impression of a space shuttle hurtling through an ice-cold expanse that seemingly extends without end in all directions, or, alternately, the unsettling feeling engendered by a visit to an underground crypt. Things develop steadily as Enceladus progresses through its seven uninterrupted parts, though the intensity does admittedly escalate during the final two sections. However you wish to hear it, the recording offers an extremely engulfing and spooky listen that's best experienced with the lights low and the volume up.

March 2015