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Norman Records

Fluorescent Grey - Ambiente

Our album of the week (25th January 2013) 2 people love me. Be the 3rd...

Ambiente by Fluorescent Grey
Disclaimer: all reviews are simply the personal opinions of our staff and customers. They are not the official opinion of Norman Records as a whole. More details here...OK?
(1 review) 9/10

Reviews

9/10 according to on Fri 25 Jan, 2013

We are very fortunate to be able to bring you this Norman Records exclusive. A co-release between the Record Label Records imprint and Cataclyst. A hand numbered edition of 100 copies comprising of a staggering fifty three tracks and a running time of just under four hours.

Fluorescent Grey A.K.A California resident Robbie Martin has been releasing his distinctive brand of electronic music since 1996 when he self released a cassette limited edition of one single copy entitled 'Please Do Not Buy This Recording'. From the offset he's never played the game or followed the rules. This consistently unconventional approach has made him a truly idiosyncratic player yet somehow he seems to hover just below the radar when it comes to getting props. If there's any justice in this world this could all be about to change.

'Ambiente' is a three CD set expertly mastered by Thomas Dimuzio and housed in a custom wooden box. Each disc comes in a hand stamped heavy card slip-case adorned with graphics (Kelly Porter and Sam Buchanan) that correspond to the psychedelic art on the discs and contains 35 art cards featuring photography, painting, collages, and cgi by Fluorescent Grey, Abby Martin, and David Mulqueen. On first glimpse the cards are great eye candy but when viewed accompanied by the audio they serve as another piece of the puzzle and bring you a step closer to Fluorescent Grey's vision.  Featuring collaborations with Djynnx of Nommo Ogo, Dimentia, and also RLR crew; Thomas Dimuzio, Scuzi, Mike Dunkley, Brian English and Black Fuhrer. Don't be mislead by the title into thinking this is merely a collection of modern ambient tracks. That couldn't be further from the truth. This music has little in common with contemporary "ambient" music, rather it has an affinity with the schools of classic electronic music; Pierre Schaeffer, Tod Dockstader, Luc Ferrari, Morton Subotnick, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pauline Oliveros etc. albeit working with more advanced technology.

Disc one was composed between 2005-2008 and is sprinkled with the reside of Fluorescent Grey's complex post-IDM creations. However here the mangled beats are traded for advanced synthesis and trademark cutting edge sound design techniques which on 'Smearing Tones' to my ears depict scenes where circuits drip with slime; semi organic/ semi-synthetic beings communicating through an alien language. After its almost ten minute duration I came round fearing I'd got the ole anal probe. When the track merges into the superbly dark 'Splatterbient' it's possible to detect hints of an Autechre influence. However, throughout the disc it's apparent that Robbie is really carving out his own path, save the odd wink to some influences on this particular disc. Up next is 'Bird's Nest' which is a recording of nesting chicks captured with fidelity and clarity Chris Watson would be proud of. The title track has me envisioning red skies underneath which an alien race congregate around a monolith while conducting a sacred ritual. 'Grand Piano Windchime Machine' is a breathtaking electro-acoustic composition with rapidly fluttering layered keys coming across like a cyborg Cecil Taylor on amphetamines. The piece has an almost elegiac quality where I imagine the soul of a departed human leaving it's body and making it's transition to the stars at hyper-speed. 'Sorcerer's' features DJynxx and is a delicious post kosmische sci-fi trip that leads into the bubbling liquid sonics of 'Ice Berg Marimba'.

Following that vivid tour of the solar system the second disc (created between 2009-2001) 'Uncanny Valley' is a journey inwards, a journey of the mind. One where nothing is quite as it seems. A journey where sound alone can create altered states. Here Robbie employs technology that emulates acoustic sound simulations resulting in hallucinatory almost tangible sounds that demand respectable volume. The lines between the organic and synthetic are scrunched up, smudged and blurred beyond recognition. Initially things are a little disorientating but once tuned in it's a real trip. 'Raspberry Armonica' is particularly beautiful, the image I'm given is one of delicate robotic butterflies gently fluttering through a cosmic breeze. 'Dragger Zamak' is equally as majestic sounding like a malfunctioning music box smothered in and being controlled by ectoplasm. The tracks on 'Uncanny Valley' recall the spirit and adventurous experimentation of the INA GRM studios emissions. sounding like they've been remixed and beamed in from the mixing desk of some alien craft light years away. Thinking of the underlying creative process becomes unfathomable. Twenty Four tracks in all with a phenomenal amount to absorb it will stand the test of time and constantly reward over repeated listens.

'Ritual At The Super Volcano' consists of the most recent material which is from 2012. It opens with a hilarious answer machine conversation recording before mutating into a plethora of processed field recordings of animals and the bubbling of Yellowstone Park's super volcano. This is perhaps the darkest, gloomiest disc of the three with the cavernous black drones and avant metal of 'Virtual Black Mass' leading into the longing, melancholy of 'Eirual' followed by the future chaos of 'Static Pipes'. Then there's the low frequency oscillations and interference of 'Greydropped' that builds to a thrilling conclusion. The deranged malfunctioning acid of 'Farewell Arp2600' and two outstanding untitled tracks which are personal highlights. Finally we reach an ultra dramatic conclusion which is a startling recording of a protest that recalls Tony Conrad's recording of a Vietnam protest outside his window (Bryant Park Moratorium Rally - 1969). As well as the political connotations it illustrates and harnesses the true power of sound. Close your eyes and you could be right there in what is both an exciting and terrifying situation.

Each disc in the set works as vibrant individual albums but when taken in together they form a complete picture. With so many ideas and so much audio it could have got messy, but it's clear that things have been meticulously refined with strong attention to detail running through everything from the packaging, titles and sequencing of the tracks. The product of seven years work, commitment, knowledge, skill, imagination, vision and passion. Ambiente is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates Robbie's dedication to, and true love of electronic music. 'Ambiente' challenges our perception of sound and is a fictional glimpse of the sonic possibilities of distant worlds, their landscapes, and inhabitants  as well as an astute study of the sonics and lifeforms of our own planet; from a squawking chick to a girl talking about throwing up. Highly recommended for true electronic music connoisseurs.

Soundclips

Press release

Fluorescent Grey - Ambiente  3XCD w/ wooden box and 35 art cards limited to 100 copies + original painting by Abby martin limited to 10 copies.

Known predominantly for his cacophonous, painstakingly layered beats, Fluorescent Grey (Robbie Martin) has taken a departure with his newest release on Record Label Records / Cataclyst. Limited to 110 copies, and composed intermittently over the span of a 7 years, Ambiente is packaged in a lidded wooden box containing three brightly screen printed CD-Rs. Hand-stamped prints designed by artists Kelly Porter and Sam Buchanan ornament the outside panels and inner sleeves. A color-coordinated pack of 35 hand-cut art cards features photography, painting, collages, and cgi by Fluorescent Grey, Abby Martin, and David Mulqueen. This gradient of images travels to otherworldly landscapes, mechanical microcosms, childlike phantasmagoria and back again, mirroring the sonic diversity contained within the three discs. Despite the name, this is not all “ambient” music in the typical fashion. What is here is an expansive mysterious collage of sounds, all richly textured by the ambiance from whence they either emerge or create. Early preview copies were described by listeners as an ‘epic sound design orgasm’ where the intent was to ‘subliminally confuse the ears’ (Igloo-Mag).

The first disc is from Grey’s more playful era, where many homages to ambient music pioneers can be heard, but not simply as a nod to musicians of the past, but as a referential roadmap for the more unfamiliar terrain ahead. ‘Acoustic Barber Pole’. is one of the many exceptions to this theme, which is an experiment using a precarious spinning metal disc and rod to convey in real-world sounds, Jean Claude Risset’s famous audio-illusion tone.

By the second disc, it has morphed into an experiment in physically modeled synthesis, which involves mathematical  designs made on short-lived, obscure, ‘proof of concept’ 90’s digital hardware units to emulate realistic acoustic sound simulations. The effect is one of an aural ‘uncanny valley’ for the listener, of not knowing whether one is hearing a live recording or a synthesized sound. Though jarring at first, eventually the listener eases into it, albeit after a short recalibration of one’s psychoacoustic processing.

The final disc crashes back down to earth with its oft-mutated field recordings of suburban wild animals in sexually heightened battle, Egyptian demonstrators, a burbling super volcano that stretches across three US states (Yellowstone Park), secondhand store found voicemail cassettes, and teargas projectiles being fired upon protesters in the last days of Occupy Oakland. The latter recording being described as a “palpable buzz and crackle of a massed, anticipatory crowd [which] gives way to a gradually escalating hysteria.” (SpliceToday - ‘These are the sounds of our injustice’ )

Other collaborators on this long-gestating project include Djynnx of Nommo Ogo, Dimentia, as well as labelmates Thomas Dimuzio, Scuzi, Mike Dunkley, Brian English and Black Fuhrer. Currently, special editions of Ambiente are still available, which include one of ten exclusive acrylic paintings by the artist’s sister, with whom heco-hosts Media Roots Radio, Abby Martin of Breaking the Set on news channel Russia Today America.  

This is not furniture music, and definitely not music for aero transportation terminals. Ideally, Ambiente should be listened to non-ambiently in a sensory deprivation environment, like an isolation tank, blackened room, ganzfeld mask, or in a ritualized, shamanistic setting with a salvia quid packed neatly under the tongue.


Disc 1: The Harmoniums Reside in the Caverns of Mercury   :  2005-2008    15 Tracks,  68:14
Disc 2: Uncanny Valley  :  2009-2011    25 Tracks,   79:35
Disc 3: Ritual at the Super Volcano  :  2012      13 Tracks,  79:39

recordlabelrecords.org

cataclyst.net

 

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