Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Motion Sickness of Time Travel

 

When I stumbled upon the name of Rachel Evans' ambient project, Motion Sickness of Time Travel last year through Luminaries & Synastry, the feeling was one of immediate interest true, but it also sprung some surprisingly new questions such as: am I to expect anything else? and can a female musician be just as much a genius as her male counterparts? While the ambient genre is certainly male dominant, that's not to suggest females in their entirety haven't contributed their fair share to the shape and reshaping of today's many music scenes. The album, in question, proved many doubters - including myself - wrong that there wasn't deservedly a place for females within this particular cornerstone. The fact is, there is. It must be true considering how confident and assured Evans is, if her output over the short 3-year span of her music career, is anything to go by. 2012's self-titled album then is not just a quickening reminder of the Georgia-based individual's solidarity in this specific scene, but it is also a slow-burner that brings with it refreshing and reminding elements to a genre known to both excite and relax in more ways than just the physical manner.

Even if you were to browse and skim through the discography of which she has already established, you'd be quick to spot Evans does not keep or conform to the same formatting and deliverance of her music. Even with a catalogue so bold and vast, even the likes of Steve Roach or Celer would raise a brow or two, the key factor to take note of is that Evans has used both of ambient's traditional trajectories of music. First you have the conventional more-than-ten track discoveries vast with ideas and loaded with potential. And then you have the opposite, the compacter two, three maybe four track records that appease to the patient, but please even further the thinker. On this self-titled release, Evans has chosen the latter, a formatting not unfamiliar, but certainly not one tried out in such a bold and richly contained fashion. So we find ourselves with the first track 'The Dream' and already the mood is one of a soaking and culminated form, an air of spacious hollowness opening out through Evans' careful usage of analog synths and electronics. Soon though the track begins to build in both energy and palette as the track blossoms into a wash of chilled yet warming synthesizers.

But its the way this passage of electronic flutters lays itself out that sparks the most interest. Evans has found a way, through tweaking the individual layers and just-as-equally laying them to rub off one another, to envoke a form of progression that feels both motioned and (much like the name suggests) motionless at the same time. Such is the case here where an artist has actually managed to recreate the feelings described in their own alias, yet it's not something one can wave away as purely comedic in its coincidence. The first track evolves in such a way that it manages to push beyond just the wave-like flux of its movement. As the droning and buzzes of electronics grow, so too does the way Evans finds a finely-balanced point between each element's reach on the listener. Through the paleness of the drone and the cooling hues of the synths, there's this almost kaleidoscopic beauty to the way the music passes from melody to beat and back to a melodic manner. Likewise, 'The Center' further shows Evans' knack for finding the tipping point yet not going as far as to act upon it. The way the second track opens up with a nostalgic tripping of bit-orientated beats - pulsating into a semi-melodic nature only to muddle its way back to gibberish glittering - is, at the very least, mesmerizing yet it doesn't delay or subdue the overall atmosphere of the music. Regardless of whether it's analog, polynomial or even distorted, there's no shying away from the dizzying heights the music ascends us to. Yet it's the way the track ascends, flutters and then majestically descends once more, that is the crucial point here. And furthermore, it's hypnotically entrancing - layers of symphonic-like mutterings blanketing the synths that sway to and fro between the melody.

Moments such as these are few and far-between in the more broader extent of music as a whole. Moments that are first, devoid of any directly forwarded message yet, second, express a longed and expanded reach of emotion. While I may be able to look back and remind myself that this form of music can be found in the likes of Boards of Canada and their unique usage of analog sounds and repeating compositions, there's no denying that for a contemporary time, the feeling is somewhat brand new in equal measure. 'Summer of the Cat's Eye' may not share the former two tracks' mean to dive and divulge amidst the swinging analog/digital divide of ambience, but it most certainly maintains this partially cloudy, partially lost self-state ambient music can often mislead, quite charmingly, the listener perceiving themselves in. Whether this is down to the nature or the volume at which Evans presents her sounds is unclear, yet it suggests a woman with enough ideas but not too much desire to express them in some disastrous collision of decision-making.

'One Perfect Moment' is, as a result, the opposing force to both these lines of thinking. Dabbing in the almost-retro mind-state of pioneers Vangelis and Jarre alike, it is without a doubt Evans' most touching and provoking piece of the four-track record. There's certainly more of a digitized and futuristic atmosphere to this track than the other three, and I'm not just talking sonically. Again, there's an influx of brightening glistens and distant hums musically, but where the vocals play a part is crucial to the way the track transcends its boundaries and lifts itself from off the simple plane of anything geographic. It's a faint inclusion, but it adds tremendous effect to the music's overall progression from one state to another. Here, the introverted shyness soon becomes a commanding glimmer of faint and faultless sounds alike - Evans dabbling in string sounds that at times, shake the very foundry that the song has already established. Almost in the same fashion of suggestion a group like Stars of the Lid would create, the instrumental accompaniments phase between existence and non-existence amidst the nature of the electronics - thus adding more of a shape-shifting pattern to the music.

In the end, the 20-minute expansions these tracks present themselves as feel more than justified length-wise and it's down to Evans' perfectly-crafted, perfectly-textured meshing of new and old that does both her and the genre proud. It's hard when coming to an album of this context to truly describe the state of mind both before, after or even during the record's playing, because there's much to the distant faintness of what's hidden underneath that plays as much a role as what we can safely decipher and imagine for ourselves, straight-out. Motion Sickness of Time Travel could well stand, indeed, as a pivotal moment in ambient music, because it proves the music of supposedly the relaxed, the calming and even the minimal nature, isn't at all limited to one or even a couple forms of presentation. It's music that, on a broader spectrum, can be read in whatever fashion possible. And on a more narrower one, is agreed upon as moving, and immeasurably vast.
~Jordan

8.5

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
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