From as far back as his days as one half of Lazy Fat People – alongside fellow Swiss Mirko Loco – Raphael Ripperton has been a purveyor of particularly deep and hypnotic house music. Bar a trio of albums between 2011 and 2013, his music has generally been committed to individual releases, remixes and curating the Tamed Musiq imprint. While this may have lent to a certain perception that Raphael has an eye purely on dance floor wax, an out of the blue approach to Balearic imprint ESP Institute last year seems set to shatter those expectations.
Ripperton’s ‘Sight Seeing‘ LP is termed as “a bi-product of introspective exploration“, and as a “collection as postcards to himself.” What this translates to, in more tangible terms, is a double LP of often introverted ambient excursions. Although there is a rising sentiment that everyone and their dog is now listlessly gesturing in the direction of this particular genre, ‘Sight Seeing‘ has been a constant companion for myself over the past couple of months and it has absolutely put down roots. In a high volume, high consumption world, an album being as tenacious as ‘Sight Seeing‘ is something to truly value.
The album’s main motifs sit somewhere between the looping snowflakes of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works 2‘ – with the almost church bell like phrase of “Vespéral” and the sunrise charm of “Ignition” evoking the most poignant connections – and Bibio’s frozen in time landscapes on ‘Phantom Brickworks‘ – the drifting chimes and xylophones of ‘Atomatic’ or the cavernous and reverental “Eloigné” as prime examples. These are comparisons that are not made lightly and distinctly fine company to be associated with.
However, other moods punctuate this collection. Lo-fi keyboard drums are rolled out on moments such as “Hêlios” – which evolves from having a languid road movie guitar lick as its centrepiece into a dense wall of cloud by its close – and “Gradation 65″ – that captivates through its fluttering organ phrase of shimmering optimism.
The album also takes a significant shift in tone to close via a pair of ambient techno tracks – “Miroir d’eau”, being the only mildly sour point on the album through a personal disfavour for techno that lurches heavily towards 6/8 time signatures, and the residual Border Community-esque trance of “Meteorythme” that gradually drops all of its elements as it plays out, as if handing you over into a slumber.
ESP Institute have stated that they are a label that likes to defy bandwagons. While ‘Sight Seeing‘ is definitely an ambient album being released right at the top of the popularity curve, it is clearly an album a derived from a deep and personal journey. You can easily imagine ‘Sight Seeing‘ being a private and introverted journey for Raphael Ripperton, and we are all the richer for being allowed a window inside.
Sight Seeing LP is out now via ESP Institute, order a copy from Bandcamp.
A1 The Dove
A2 Puente De Los Enamorados
B3 Stratégie Silencieuse
C5 Gradation 65
D1 Miroir D’Eau