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Nocturnal Emissions – Omphalos!

Label: Soleilmoon Format: CD

Nocturnal Emissions - OmphalosBuilt on a circling foundation of interlocking sampled sequences which shift the initial loop into self-generated patterns of intrinsically chaotic nature, Omphalos! (the navel) has much to recommend it for its hazy, slowly drifting ebb and flow of sound mixing itself into hypnotic strands. With the stated intention being to disengage from the centred focus of science and linear thought, Nigel Ayers is operating in an area familiar to those off-kilter philosophers Deleuze and Guattari – as well as pagan shamans, Buddhists and the psychoactively engaged.

Loops accrete slowly into spirals of repetition, minutely altered by pitch and tone, interacting with each other to produce what is no doubt intended to resemble the circular ruins of archetypal antiquity. This much concentrated microtonality can be very effective, and it’s just a shame that the tools used here are the digital synthesizer to a distractingly clinical degree. The shards of sampled sound spun into pure tones have the benefit of gritty presence; unfortunately, the sound of keyboard piano-synthesis holds less attraction, too often making the link to external reality too strong for the intriguing results proposed by this record.

Still, the analogue notes of “Arktos” have a nice resonance which sets off the underlying minimal beat well; likewise, “Arbor Low” has a certain brooding presence – which is once again diluted by those preset-sounding bass tones which underpin some finely acerbic hurdy-gurdy or accordion samples, together making for a strangely epic piece which eventually breaks into Trance Dub of quite pleasing proportions. The echoing digital explosions of “Yggdrasil” or the disjointed interplay of sample and echoed, processed noises in “Shaman’s Flight” are equally promising, but flounder again on the mechanistic methodology. For all the complex ideas and processes that Ayers has explored, Omphalos! is let down by an uninspiring choice of sounds, and even the rising re-visited Tabla Dub-scape of the exuberent title track which finishes the CD never fully escapes this disappointment.

-Antron S. Meister-

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