Æmaeth – The Roman

Posted: 6 February 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Gizeh Records – 12th February 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Æmaeth is the project of Owen Pegg (A-Sun Amissa / Hundred Year Old Man), and he’s already scored a number of films. Independent flick The Roman is a silent work which to which ten segments of improvisational drone-based passages played on guitar and piano were composed by way of an accompaniment.

Since the film premiered in May 2014, its soundtrack has been evolving, developing, accruing layers and details, until finally, the ten pieces came together to form a fluid, brooding sequence that stands as a whole, and as a powerful sonic journey. It’s fitting for a film which is no gung-ho Hollywood take on history based on a succession of cast off-thousand battle scenes. Simon Rawson’s movie, shot in Yorkshire, is outlined as a story of two men, lost, who are ‘challenged and tested by nature, each other and the inner most conflicting primordial affiliations with man’s body and mind’.

Pegg’s soundtrack conveys so much, its dark, tense tones resonate as they connote psychological drama. The battles fought within the mind, the conflict and the uncertainty. The barren, unforgiving landscapes, shadowy woodlands and bleak moors. These are the scenes portrayed within the compositions, which are spacious, often sparse. Delicate piano notes drift airily but ponderously, gradually eclipsed by deep, dark, thunderous rolling drones, stormy and threatening. At times, the sheer weight and density of the ominous tones are oppressive, the sounds so large as to create a sensation of a pressure being applied to the skull.

That isn’t to say the soundtrack lacks subtlety: far from it. There are passages of quiet, so hushed as to compel the listener to strain their ears listening for some faint sound – and invariably, there is something, something small, soft, indistinct. Or there are layers of sound, often in the upper frequencies, needling the senses, tugging at the peripheries of the psyche, somewhere in the background or half-hidden, off to one side. These, like the brief moments of light which occasionally present themselves, are integral to the soundtrack’s dynamics, and the power of its effect.

There is torment, there is discomfort. There is also an ever-present sense of danger, sometimes distant, sometimes heart-stoppingly close.

The final passage, the nine-minute ‘Neptune’ is vast, built on a slowly turning vortex of sound. A rumbling rhythm lingers as it pulses just beneath the surface of its soft tonality and offers a hint of redemptive relief at the conclusion of a journey which is most worthy of the term ‘epic’.

Æmaeth - Roman

 

Æmaeth – The Roman at Gizeh

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