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Aquavoice – Grey

Zoharum

Aquavoice – GreyTadeusz Łuczejko‘s eighth album as Aquavoice finds him stepping out beyond the more abstract and/or ambient territory hitherto occupied by his particular take on electronica. While all the elements are synthesised – in software or with physical devices – there is much on this album which resonates with the warmth of acoustic instrumentation.

This is particularly evident on “Magma,” whose cellos and other strings, however artificial, tremble and thrum alongside a languorously unfolding breakbeat whose particular cyclic motion has an affinity with the sort of ambiences Coil were producing on their Musick To Play In The Dark albums. Like the latter group, there is a sinister darkness apparent on many of the tracks here, and such vocals as there are hiss, murmur or come from samples and take on an abstract, almost deracinated dimension, telling what stories they have to tell from the depths of mystery rather than in an immediately comprehensible form, dropping into the music like fragments of a radio play passing across the airwaves and picked up via poorly-shielded cabling..

Equally, some of the synthesizer work here – for example on “Child of the Moon” – glows and bubbles with a brief, rippling joy which would maybe even make Thighpaulsandra smile; but here and for the most part throughout the album, one of Aquavoice’s strengths is to deploy instruments and sounds sparingly, never letting them outstay their necessity or welcome. Moods ebb softly or more abrasively, rarely jarring and always unfolding at their own pace and to match their own needs. While Grey could easily be left to track in the background, it is most definitely worthy of detailed attention and then admiration. Frequently some particular tone or composition will seize the listener’s attention (“Glassgames” is a particularly good example of this effect) and hold it, perhaps with the repeating thematic layers of trickling watery sounds, chiming loops and scurrying rhythmic injections which Łuczejko returns to on several occasions.

For instance, when “Radiowaves” trundles in on a triphop chassis and major chordal melodies rise up on an almost effulgent approach towards blissout land, it’s easy at first to pop the sounds into the Portishead pigeonhole – but soon it becomes apparent that there’s much more in common with the murkier beauty of the likes of Australia’s own darkling electronicists Pelican Daughters, who similarly shifted from darkness to light and back again, often within the same song. Aquavoice have also got the knack of letting the avantgarde elements break through as much as those drawn from minimalist practices both old and new.

It’s this ability to paint with both a broad brush and to fill in the nooks and crannies with finely-judged details which marks out Grey for special commendation as an album which rewards repeated close attention thanks to the depth and breath of its composition.

-Richard Fontenoy-

 

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