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FELICIA ATKINSON/JEFRE CANTU-LEDESMA Limpid As The Solitudes gets 7.5/10

Félicia Atkinson/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Limpid As The Solitudes
Shelter Press

7.5/10

Certainly one of the more strange and intriguing albums this year, Limpid As The Solitudes is an ambient excursion to places uncharted. Although not much dramatic happens over its 40-minute duration, its soundscapes draw you in, skewering time with only some minimal sounds and spacious, hypnotic drones.

The project is the second collaboration between master sound collagists Atkinson and Cantu-Ledesma. French musician and visual artist Atkinson has released a series of intimate electronic albums, such as last year’s Hand In Hand, and worked with Liz Harris (Grouper) and others recently, whereas the Berlin-based Cantu-Ledesma is one of the busiest collaborators in the electronic/noise/ambient scene, having worked folks such as Oneohtrix Point Never and Yellow Swans.

Opener And The Flowers Have Time For Me begins with some very simple melodic notes with various active noises from field recordings: creaking doors and footsteps, water flowing and wind rustling, and the cries of birds. Then – it hits you: the hummy drone in the background. Somewhere between a proper low drone and something higher pitched, the hum pervades all the tracks here. This hum ebbs and flows in and out of consciousness throughout the album, subtly morphing from something that nearly sounds like a (somewhat maddening) alarm in the next room or a mechanical buzz, then imperceptibly changing to something quieter, softer and calmer and more like a musical instrument. In any case, it is the thread that binds all the tracks on the album together, holding the subconscious at attention (if that makes sense) while the sparser sound elements and field recordings come and go.

Her Eyelids Say continues the hum, but adds plinking keys and cricket-like whirs before introducing a piano motif at about the halfway mark of its 9-minute duration. Indefatigable Purple is the most conventionally song-like of the collection, with shimmering guitar melodies that dovetail with other elements such as snippets of whispers and hushed voices.

Closing track All Night I Carpenter is a mini-epic at 18 minutes, but it is a natural summation of what’s come before with the hum of course, echoing percussion and soft taps on muted vibes, and eventually returning to previous sound elements of meandering piano, birds and flowing water, adding distant chimes and even a whistling tea pot. The last third introduces some simple tones on keys that begin to finally resolve the album. The hum, reduced to a kind of static at this point, gradually recedes to reveal several melodic lines that interact in fascinating ways, the mind lapping up the tunes at this stage. A fitting end to the journey, although you may not know if you’ve been dreaming or awake for the last little while.

If you’re after some ambient tunes this spring, then Limpid As the Solitudes may be just the thing for the experimentally-minded listener. It draws you into Atkinson and Cantu-Ledesma’s sound worlds, and is a pleasing organic concoction of manufactured and found sounds to take you on a sublime hypnagogic trip.

PAUL DOUGHTY

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