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Oophoi, "An Aerial View"

Italy's Alessandro Tedeschi (the man behind both the ambient Netherworld outfit and Glacial Movements) seems to be waging a one-man campaign through his label to make us aware of the fragility of the icy snowbound environments situated at both poles of our planet. This release, by fellow Italian ambient artist Oöphoi (Gianluigi Gasparetti), is the label's fourth foray and steadfastly continues the tradition set by the previous three in bringing  extended and hauntingly crystalline sound explorations of these threatened environments.

 

Glacial Movements

Oöphoi here regales us with a delicately sparkling, shimmering meditation on that very fragile nature of the pristine ice-sheets floating on the waters of the northern and southern extremities of this globe—an endangered fragility made even more topical with the news that large cracks are appearing in the massive Wilkins ice-shelf in Antarctica and that glacier-loss is accelerating. Oöphoi brings this matter to our attention through the medium of just over 65 minutes of minimalist drone, composed of slowly evolving and minutely changing synth washes providing a dreamlike backdrop for the ghostly voice of a solitary theremin, perhaps lamenting and bewailing the complacency and the careless attitude with which the human species disregards the health of his only home. The net result being a long slowly-unwinding Eno-esque ambientscape, describing a world where mankind has very rarely set foot simply because of an accident of geography and climatology, a place of endless stretches of white populated only by polar creatures supremely adapted to these harsh conditions, yet still, paradoxically, a place where the reach of man's shortsightedness has had, and continues to have, a profoundly damaging effect.

What I took from this was the shiveringly haunting beauty gracing one of the last true wildernesses left on this much-traversed and explored world of ours, a beauty bathed for at least half the year in utter darkness, the skies only occasionally enlivened by the playful auroral visitations splashing themselves across the vast expanse of midnight blue, the stars peeking out from behind the shimmering veil of electrons like some shy maiden. Oophoi's soundscapes capture that essential crispness of the polar air, where everything takes on a clarity unavailable elsewhere, where the light from billions of tiny pinpoints of light reach us and put on a gloriously unashamed display, perhaps because of the very fact that there are very few witnesses around. The whole sound, just like the land itself, welcomes the listener wholeheartedly with a coldly soporific and torpid embrace, enveloping one with a desire to do nothing but lie back and let the imagined warmth overwhelm, until life itself becomes a dream slipping through numb fingers.

This harks back to the early experiments in ambient soundscapes, gently wafting, swirling and mesmerising, unhurried, just like the slow progress of the glaciers and floes of ice flowing on the frigid seas of these ice-bound regions. Deeply spiritual in many ways and deeply moving, unfolding with a stately pace befitting the rhythm of life in these stark deserts of ice and snow, this album was, for me, redolent of both crisply cold but sun-lit winter mornings, or that part of the day when the blue skies of the day have given way to the deep purples and blues of twilight, the time when the stars emerge from the wings in order to put on their nightly show. This is shatteringly beautiful, scintillatingly frozen, and stunningly magnificent ambience.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Marissa Nadler

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Review of the Day

k/low
Low may now be superstars, (yet they're not too big to still appear on a multitude of compilations and singles) but the shining moments on this split single belong to Karla Shickele's new project, K. The lineup of K features a mixed cast of friends, including Tara Jane O'Neil (of Retsin, Rodan and solo fame), Cynthia Nelson (of Retsin, Ruby Falls and the Naysayer), Ida bandmate Michael Littleton, and Ida Pearle. Over the last year, there have been some random K shows in the northeast US as well as a couple home-manufactured CD-R releases, each time gathering more attention, leading up to an anticipated debut album. K's "Regular Girl" opens the disc on a strong note, a brand new song worthy of affection from any Ida appreciator. What follows are two from Low, includning a touchingly sweet track from 1997 titled "Those Girls," which could almost be a speech directed to teenage girls. Also from Low is a 3/4 time reworked "Venus" recorded by Warn Defever, which is nice to have for the fans, yet the voices sound kind of off. Defever also remixed the closing track, a short Flashpapr cover tune, "Were We to Dance," a basic tune which could have been recorded straight to four-track, powerful yet humble. "Were We to Dance" originally appeared on the 'Your Name and Mine' CD-R from K released last year. K is on tour right now with Retsin, check the dates at Tiger Style's website, and the full-length album is due in July.

 

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