From soundscaper Phil Tomsett otherwise known as The Inventors of Aircraft comes No Answers, Not Even Any Questions. Follow Phil as he traverses the path from dark to light, from urban sprawl to a bucolic unease reminiscent of the terrifying countryside from Hammer Horror’s rural nightmares. Must be played at full volume. On CD.
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‘No Answers, Not Even Any Questions’ documents Phil Tomsett uprooting his life, moving from the bluster of urban life to the natural inclines of the countryside. The change in scenery ain’t pretty, truth be told: rather than offer us a record of retirement plan ambient that soothes the soul and evokes the pastoral beauty of his new surroundings, Tomsett’s compositions are harsh and overbearing, signalling the end of a hibernation -- the opening of eyes to bright, blinding light.
After a minute of muffled, indecipherable field noise, the record opens up in grandiose fashion, with phases of intensive synth drone and percussive snaps suggesting violence in the natural world. It’s called “Rural Brutalism”, implying an intrusion on the organic, which is how this music feels: like there’s something harrowing and terrifying where it shouldn’t be. Around the four-minute mark, a dark ambient passage of echoed percussion filters in, recalling Jeff Zeigler’s efforts at sabotaging Mary Lattimore’s otherwise warm drones. It lasts for mere seconds before normal service resumes, but it’s a reminder of the lack of safety nature provides for us: it can all change in a heartbeat.
Tomsett’s drone could be a comforting blanket, on another day, his soundscapes rising and falling with the calming precision of Adam Witzie’s work in Stars of the Lid and A Winged Victory For The Sullen. But the way these sounds are processed is chilling and finite -- they’re played louder than your average Tim Hecker epic, and the paths Tomsett leads us down are dead ends, abrupt changes in sound suggesting you turn back around and walk away. Little bursts of found sound crack through this record, the final seconds of “Rural Brutalism” screeching noise interrupted with a percussive halt, or else the sustained layers breach the limits of the landscape, with “Doomed Mysticism” getting nigh-on transcendental with its immensely loud drone. It's best played loud, suggesting that nature is best taken in whole, and your senses work to their fullest capacity when you overload them. ‘No Answers, Not Even Any Questions’ is a disorientating snapshot of a huge new world Tomsett is discovering alongside us.
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