Ultimae Records is on a roll. The French electronic label has so far released the newest Solar Fields effort, the debut album from Connect.Ohm and the fantastic compilation album Greenosophy.
This year also saw the release of Daniel Segerstad's (from Swedish downtempo giants Carbon Based Lifeforms) sophomore release under the Sync24 moniker called Comfortable Void. And now he's set to release a collection of unreleased Sync24 material in the form of a download only album named Ambient Archive which features 14 tracks produced between 1996 and 2002. Apart from being full of familiar sounds and shapes, Segerstad also has a few surprises up his (relaxed) sleeve.
The journey through time starts with “Silence”, a track which showcases the familiar textures we became used to hearing on a CBL release with the rawer undertones of Sync24's earlier work. The bassline sounds familiar enough; it sounds like this could have been a very early demo for Dance of the Droids off of the recently released Comfortable Void, a refreshing take on a familiar concept. "Idle" also sounds like familiar territory. Vintage analogue synths lay on a bed of warm pads and soothing melodies. The vibe changes with the third track, which is interestingly named “Quad”. It's less ambient and more downtempo, sonically reminiscent of the later works of Jean-Michelle Jarre. "Nevermind" and "Return" let go completely of the characteristics of ambient music in favour of a more trip-hop-esque vibe. It's compelling to hear the classic CBL vibes mixed in with different genres. Even though it's less ethereal than his current stuff it manages to keep you interest with its dynamics and melodic passages. “M42” features a heavy percussive bassline and subtle bits of synth plastered over a 80s style drone. “Monolith” adds a lot of atmosphere to the already established dynamics featured on this album with a synth guitar and a steady rock and roll beat.
The album swings you back and forth between relaxed and extremely relaxed without much effort or a noticeable transition. It's a unique look inside the mind of Sync24 at a time where he was busy figuring out his sound and his technique and it does a terrific job at showcasing just how talented this man really is. A plethora of genres are served to you on a silver platter and there are enough subtle layers in each track to keep you occupied (or to keep you company by filling up your room with a certain mood or atmosphere) and interested. On one hand it's a very engaging album, what with the melodies and rhythmic elements. On the other hand it's a perfect album to keep you company when you’re working at home or when you're trying to relax after a long day. The absolute high point of the album is track 10, the mysteriously titled “Red Fruit”, which sounds like an analogue jam on a warm afternoon. A close second is the 303 heavy Ambient track “Node” with its constant acid melodies and snappy FX. “Titan” wraps it all up rather nicely by being an extremely deep, slow and relaxing effort which is interesting thanks to its complex layering.
So is there nothing bad to be said about this album? I find it hard to spot a defect on this release. Of course it sounds a bit dated but that's understandable when the newest track on the album was created and finished 10 years ago. If you look past that fact all that remains is a terrific album which is both dynamic and engaging. An interesting release from back to back and certainly something I will put on repeat for the coming time. So if you're a fan of Carbon Based Lifeforms, Sync24 or of Ultimae Records (although, surprisingly, this particular album is released on Leftfield Records) entirely you cannot miss this well-crafted album by one of ambient's finest.