A few years back an entertaining article spread around the web featuring the AS606 ambient sequencer – an amazing device that sits on top of your synth keys creating infinite sustain whilst summarising the easiest way of making a ‘drone’.
True, there’s a lot of minimal ambient out there that does indeed sound like somebody has jammed their synth keys and wandered off to the shops leaving the machine to do the work.
Reilly, Reich and Glass popularised the concept of minimalism / drone and commenced a path now so well traversed it feels hard to expand upon. Should music always be about creating something new though? Some may say yes, others couldn’t care less but really it should just sound nice when I play it, right?
For this, his eighth album, Marsen Jules explores minimalist themes of reduction and repetition with a sound striking eponymous tones of both beauty and fear. The resplendent unfurling shimmers found within previous work such as Herbstlaub and Les Fleurs are replaced with paired back synthesis and the narrow cast icy breath of drawn out ponderance.
Created whilst staying at a theatre work space in the hills over Lisbon, I wonder what in that environment influenced the sound of this release. Portugal’s rocky economy, a Jose Saramago book (for which this would make a fine soundtrack), a view of Lisbon from the theatre’s hill top perch?
A hazy threatening pall lurks over tracks IV and VI and everything seems infused with a dust encrusted layer of history – Beautyfear IX simply hangs a one note refrain for four and a half minutes. It’s the kind of music that could soundtrack both blustery winter days or distant horizon panoramas – both intimate and expansive, inviting yet mildly oppressive.
Rest assured, it’s a mighty fine ambient listen, closer in sound to GAS, The Caretaker and a reduced Deepchord. Somnambulant yet refined, gorgeously textured and mastered with a hefty sonic depth by Taylor Dupree, it’s one for late nights and quiet remote places.
Discover more about Marsen Jules on Inverted Audio.