SOFA – SOFA553 – 24th February 2017
The album’s title is a nod to a Polish science fiction film from 1988 which has an unusual story behind its production and eventual, much-delayed release. Also in the mix of influences is the book Moon Dust by Andrew Smith, which discusses the way in which each of the Apollo astronauts dealt with their experiences, as well as how the space programme was closed down by the Nixon administration.
As you might reasonably expect, then, On the Silver Globe is a lunar / space-themed work, and one which does, albeit in in less than conventional manifestations, incorporate many common elements of ambient music which evoke all things ‘spacey’. By which, I mean it’s a reverby, synthy, cinematic work which forges a sense of abstract ‘otherness’. And so, ladies and gentleman, listening to On the Silver Globe we really do feel as if we are floating in space, above the earth and free from all of its groundedness, its gravity, its noise, the claustrophobic clamour of life in the 21st Century.
Slow, deliberate hums hover and hang. Distant static swells in density and intensity, growing to a thick rumble of distortion that slithers menacingly around the cranium. The dominant feature of the first of these five numbered tracks is the ebb and slow, easy, flow: if seemingly arbitrarily-timed, the rise and fall, the swell and decline, the attack and decay all occur in a fluid and natural-feeling way.
For a moment, you’re removed from everything. The horrors of Trump’s first month in presidency – that terrifying train-wreck of bullshit and bravado, the violent social division – and never mind the horrors of Brexit (whatever that may yet mean as the government continue to push in increasingly sadistic, inhumane bills by the back door behind the smokescreen of confusion and bickering – all diminish as you push out beyond the atmosphere, into another realm entirely. Is this how life could be? Perhaps now, more than ever, a life off earth has the greatest appeal. A new colony, a fresh start. Of course, it is all a dream, but one which Kim Myhr and Lasse Marhaup articulate magnificently through the medium of sound.
A quavering note rings out across time while a whupping thrum chops at the airless atmosphere. Scrunching crackles, whistles, bleeps and pops disturb the surface of an ever-shifting kaleidoscopic latticework of sound. The fourth track engages more directly with conventional sci-fi tropes, while throwing in blasting engines and ominous oscillations and the roaring swarm of a nuclear wind.
For all the slowness, the evolutionary pace of the compositions, in terms of their end-to-end transition, there are seismic changes and a vast textural expanse explored in microcosmic detail on each of the five pieces.