“Oansome” is a word coined by Russell Hoban, American author of the triumphantly bleak post-apocalyptic novel Riddley Walker, set in Kent after a nuclear war has ravaged the land and left the survivors scrabbling to survive and speaking in a language as changed by the Bomb as the landscape and people have been. Indicating a sense of despondent solitude, of being left abandoned and profoundly alone in a world ripped asunder, Oansome Orbits are Paul Gough‘s way of describing the microscopic sounds he has made live large on the eight tracks of the album, circling and reacting to each other in the void. Lonesome this album certainly is, drifting and sussurating on bowed and flexed metals and other substances, plucked and chopped digitally, arranged and stretched, shifted, uprooted and engrained with the results of processes and processing which is almost as much a part of the sound as the source material itself.There is a sense of vastness at work on opening “Passing, Never To Be Held” and the album’s title track, a cold immensity which resonates at some of the same emotive environmental frequencies as fellow isolationist Thomas Köner‘s bleaker works. Mechanisms whirr and sputter queasily across the triphammer rhythms of “Archangel In Reverse,” a vivid sense of unheimlich deracination building as the track rises in epiphanic cacophony, and likewise the glitchedelic snuffling of “Shadow Catch You Tiring”hints and murmurs at music while never likely to satisfy anyone in unsuspecting search of melody and harmony. For that they’d have to go to the elevated pseudo-string section reaches of “Holding, Never To Be Passed,” a piece which would pass eminent muster as a theme for the International Space Station if it were ever to find use as a cathedral of scientific endevour. Further life-affirming astronautics swirl around the wibbly psychedelic gloop of “Düülbludgers,” an analogue cauldron bubbling into energetic liftoff, though one so distended and fractious as to not offer much hope for life beyond the atmosphere, at once forbidding and engrossing.
The Oansome Orbit is often beautiful to contemplate, in the same way that the Antarctic or the depths of space are – but Pimmon takes the listener right inside the cavernous, up close and frigid with the infinite. The sublime Gough offers up is one which might not be best encountered on a dark night in the nether regions of the soul, but there probably isn’t much choice offered in the matter at all that.
*(For a very different referencing of Riddley Walker, see also the Littl Shyning Man brand of electronica.)