Sep 2011 08

Sounding the Deep - A Union According to Energy
Sounding the Deep
Category: Ambient
Album: A Union According to Energy
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Sounding the Deep has impressive skills, but not enough energy to keep the listener’s attention for long.


Ambient music has become quite fashionable these days, with a new group of Mac-wielding young musicians creating a 10 track album of intrigue and ethereal beauty every 15 minutes. Sounding the Deep’s A Union According to Energy could be said to sound like just any other ambient electronic album, until you realize all the noises you’re hearing are made by actual instruments; and that makes all the difference. Recorded live with minimal dubbing, David Williams and Mike Vera turned a couple of guitars and some percussion into an experiment of noise that puts it in the category of modern Robin Guthrie soundscapes.

The track titles don’t matter. “Desert Fathers” sounds no more like a man in a sandstorm than “Skullcap & Honey” sounds like whatever that title is supposed to signify. In fact, if you depend on names, “Canopy Mist,” featuring the sound of real rain captured during the recording process, will be confused with “Thunderheads,” which has neither thunder nor rain. So, let’s forget the titles. Track one features a slow low-pitched drone accented by higher howls and whines that could possibly be used to communicate with underwater creatures. It is lovely despite no obvious beginning or end. It just is. Track two begins with a crash and an extended rolling thunder of drums. A distorted guitar joins the mix, at times adding a high pitched wail. The buildup of track three makes this one of the most interesting on the album. With plenty of percussion and a growing drone, the rhythm is addictive and nearly tribal. Then it is back to more very… slow… pieces with tracks four and five; painfully, torturously sluggish, like drowning in a pool of corn syrup. Track six has the benefit of steady rain to keep its pace, but with very little variation in the sound, it is seven minutes of constant downpour leaving the listener looking for somewhere dry and a little brighter. Fortunately, Sounding the Deep provides it at last with the final track on the album. Although another slow one, track seven finally finds its feet around four-and-a-half minutes in (it’s an eight minute piece), with a crashing beat and the introduction of more aggressive percussion.

A Union According to Energy stands out in the current field of ambient music just based on the use of actual instruments rather than heavy dependence on electronics. It hits all the keywords: ethereal, thought-provoking, intriguing, disturbing. However, with an abundance of incredibly slow buildups and minimal variation, these tunes are more in the “to be ignored” spectrum of ambient, despite the impressive instrumental skill.
Track list:

  1. Desert Fathers
  2. Wheels of Light
  3. Circadian Rhythms
  4. Burden
  5. Skullcap & Honey
  6. Canopy Mist
  7. Thunderheads

Sounding the Deep Website
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Sonic Meditations Website
Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)

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