Ambient Sunday with Ambient Girl by Ross Harper #Ambient #Psychedelic #Drone

A whole album for Ambient Sunday from Ross Harper. A musical journey of ambient and psychedelic.

Don’t normally do albums. But since it’s Sunday a chance to pause and reflect with Brighton-based Ross Harper’s return with the just released album Ambient Girl, from which August’s LOW features as the closing track. This rave veteran’s third album is inspired by a poem he wrote featuring the girl of the title (see end of post). Also featuring references to light and dark. It’s accompanied by a cover image that has such a heavy pre-Raphaelite nod that Simon Schama would be purring with some sort of over-extended metaphor linking it to the rise and fall of Western civilisation.

The album opens with Axis. If this is the tune on which the album turns then it’s a delight. This is ambient as 90s IDM with added fabric softener. It leaves a gently chiming start full of odd spaces and echoed sounds. Newt follows in a more anxious psychedelic vein. Still chiming but the beats are more compressed and shows us the darkness at the heart of all drama. Pure Love follows but is as soaring and fleeting as you’d expect. But it’s also filled with the heady bass ridden madness of falling in love.

There follows the refracted wobble of Watery Pillar. A bass line drones away far in the distance whilst pinging almost sonar sounds bounce around. A bit of an 80s electronic track trying to escape the depths. A growing sense of strangeness and dislocation. Spheres marks the half-way point of the album. It’s both a pause in a way and a reminder of industrial sounds that exist outside the cocoon. Sounds tinkle beautifully but inescapably the machines are there. That’s then taken further with the almost metal bashing noise of Rushing.

Air comes as a relief. The machines are gone. Light floods back in a track that has that barely there quality of slow high end synths. It’s as if human and humanity can make a peeping return to the album. Balances and Important take almost a third of the album and are the centrepiece of the closing section. Balances is the track with the most obviously 90s ambient tones. It has slow, measured beats and a stately synth procession. A bass sounding ethereal chorus intones off-stage. This has a lot of FAX / Pete Namlook about it. Phrases repeat over and over in a hypnotic fashion. Important takes that calmness further with the first set of obvious strings and beats that have a sense of slowing down and endings to come. Whether in love or in life the darkness will eventually get us all.

The album closes with Low. But not the version I previously reviewed. That was a three minute walk in dappled woodland sunlight. This is a more serious six minute piece that draws together the various threads of the album. The ongoing darkness and light. The humanity and machines. The love and loss. The soaring of synths and the earthiness of beats.

Ambient Girl is not really about a girl. It’s more, much more than that. It’s an album in which the both sides of everything in life and death are given ambient psychedelic form.

Bandcamp (Buy)

Spotify

Poem

“I see machinery, I see a man of light holding a key of light, surrounded by the huge machinery, like giant cogs and pistons, he stands on a raised platform amid the machinery, the colours around are browns and shades of darkness, the browns are like beautiful shades of rust, then I notice a slender female figure is kneeling with her head bowed, she is wearing a dark cloak with the hood covering her face, then I see in her hands she is holding a small bouquet of flowers, her spirit is full of stillness, then the man of light anoints the kneeling one with the key of light and there is then an explosion of light.”

~ by acidted on September 27, 2020.

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