SONMI451 – SEVEN SIGNALS IN THE SKY
Laaps Records (“a permanent continuity in sounds and visual with some bridges between each album; a sound imprint connected to each of the four seasons”) promises a beautiful summer with their 13th title in the ongoing series which will come to an end with #100.
And summer definitely is the perfect season to fully enjoy the lush sound of Bernard Zwijzen‘s Sonmi451 (named after a character of David Mitchell‘s novel Cloud Atlas).
Seven Signals In The Sky is Sonmi451‘s 12th release since 2005 (according to the Laaps liner notes, though Discogs tells us that it’s his 13th and Sonmi451‘s Bandcamp page even counts 15 titles).
Over the years, Zwijzen has perfected his “blend of minimal, soundscape-laden atmospheric electronics” while remaining immediately recognizable.
The overall atmosphere is usually calming, somewhat drowsy, often with softly whispered female vocal fragments (uncredited, surprisingly – could this be AI-generated?). I’m not sure what language the vocal snippets are in, but since Cloud Atlas is situated in Seoul I guess it could be Korean (*). It doesn’t matter what language it is, really. The ASMR effect of soft whispering will probably be the same in every language.
(*) edit: sources that can know tell me it’s not Korean but Japanese. So much for the Cloud Atlas connection)
Zwijzen manages to combine adventurous sound design with an unparalleled level of relaxedness. The production quality does the rest (Seven Signals In The Sky was mastered by Taylor Deupree). I’d say this could be the perfect summer release, were it not for the fact that this album will work wonders in any season.
Note: apart from the digital version, Seven Signals In The Sky is available as a yellow-colored vinyl album as well as a limited edition CD. The CD and digital versions have three extra tracks that are not on the vinyl (but as usual you get the full download when purchasing the vinyl version).
ILUITEQ – THE LOSS OF WILDERNESS
Iluiteq, the Italian duo Sergio Calzoni and Andrea Belluci, is dedicated “to explore the many facets of ambient music, with meticulous attention to sound design and smooth melodic arrangements”. Their second album (the follow-up to Soundtracks For Winter Departures) demonstrates how they fulfill their mission statement.
The Loss Of Wilderness echoes “our current ecological situation’s sentiment: arcadian movements in memory of landscapes destroyed by humanity’s negligence”.
This is not the first album thematically based on the climate change issues, and it probably won’t be the last one too. Especially seeing an alarming increase of heatwaves, floodings, and other disasters. It’s time to stop denying and start acting.
Given the urgency of the theme (“we as species are running out of time to rectify our planet’s destructive direction”) one cóuld argue that the melodic arrangements are a bit smoother than the climate disaster would suggest – this music may be more about remembering the beauty of the landscapes lost, and thus serves as a warning that we really don’t wánt to lose them.
Iluiteq create their message with musical means, without the too obvious use of field recordings one would expect. So it’s up to your fantasy to relate the sounds to the message. But if you don’t directly relate the music you hear to the dangers of climate change, the track titles will help: The Remains Of A Fragile Landscape, Glacier Ice Falling Into The Sea, Earth Melding In New Shapes.
The Loss Of Wilderness is released in “coke bottle clear” (???) vinyl. The digital edition (which is also included with the vinyl purchase) has two extra bonus tracks.