"This is top-notch isolationist headphones music, for late-night window-gazing and sinking through the passing hours"
Electronic extraordinaire Fennesz supplies four operatic cuts for the Touch label with “Agora”, a rare solo foray by the artist, constructed from what hardware was to hand in his bedroom. The methodology is reflected in the end product: this is top-notch isolationist headphones music, for late-night window-gazing and sinking through the passing hours.
It is electronic/acoustic synesthesia, conjuring to mind the openness and beauty of stark nature as equally as the music can be transferred to cold megacity structures, all metal walls, skyscrapers and echo. Drives and diodes, strings and far-off song are all hidden within, rebounding and obfuscating each other; epic without reaching corniness.
All the offerings share coarse, gain-ridden textures that spiral and eddy through layered frequencies, amorphous and barely tamed, yet Fennesz remains in control with a firm hand on the wheel. Within each piece there are tidal swells and developing themes, which are explored with patience, dwelling on each mood for just as long as is needed before languidly shifting to the next.
The music therefore has evolving structure, whereas lesser music may lose control and allow sequences to overrun or become aimless – no less beautiful to listen to, but lacking that professional command of the evolution of musical theme. As a result, even those who delight in rhythmic ambience and defer from broad, sweeping synths without cohesive structure will here find music to keep their attention.
“Rainfall” in particular demonstrates all that is mentioned above. The sound of rain falling has long been an inspiration for musicians and artists, and Fennesz makes a noteworthy contribution. Everyone has at some stage watched a summer storm brewing, with inevitability in their mind – Fennesz captures these moments of tense anticipation and wonder in the opening act. The rain, as ever, starts falling slowly, but quickly builds into a maze of euphoria and pattern-madness. You can almost hear the rain drumming on the window-panes and ricocheting from the roofs.
“In My Room” and title-track “Agora” are the most phobic: subtle, insider sonics breathe slowly, rising and falling as grey light paints through the gaps in the curtains. Meanwhile, “We Trigger The Sun” – like “Rainfall” – is more of an Act 1/Act 2 beast, with the latter half inundated with soaring lead lines, optimistic and pining for the summer in the mid-spring.
“Agora” is scheduled for release in CD and digital formats on 29 March 2019. Order a copy from Bandcamp.
1. In My Room
4. We Trigger The Sun