The phrase “Åpne Sinn,” I am told, is Norwegian for “open mind.” It’s an appropriate choice of moniker for musician Geoff Small, given the diversity of style on his excellent debut, Espiritista. As the disc flows along, Small shows something of a chameleonic adaptability, working cool ambient flows and uptempo constructs with equal ease. He starts off by weaving a mesh of barbed sound in the title track, then reaches in to slowly extract long, breathy drifts that he balances against the noise. The feel is of starting from a point of chaos (the world, essentially), being brought to a place of meditative calm, and then coming back out. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on Åpne Sinn’s approach, he drops in the beat and bass pulse of “Advaita,” which may be my favorite track here. In this I hear a memory of Oldfield’s “Songs of Distant Earth” melded with an Enigma-esque groove. And it takes me over from the beginning. This track not only has funk, it’s got depth, something else Small is good at creating. All these pieces have a great sense of sonic dimension. Small’s beat-based offerings are just straight-up fun to get into. “Twinewheel” throbs its way along on energetic, rubbery chords; “Slowdive” goes straight to my analog-lovin’ heart with mid-tempo Berlin-style sequencer lines and that wonderful, geometrically precise sense of meter. That being said, I have to admit that Small’s drifts may be my preferred side of Åpne Sinn. There’s no way to avoid losing six and a half minutes to “Freefall,” but you’ll give them up gladly to Small’s ethereal, perfectly layered sounds. The closer, “Arclight,” is 15 minutes of classic slow-chord, cloudflow ambient that carries echoes of “Early Man”-era Roach. There’s a subtle touch of rainstick throughout (if I hear correctly) that beautifully grounds the piece for me. It’s a simple touch that Small manages to make important. A great track, and surely the right one on which to end!
Espiritista is another rock-solid release from Relaxed Machinery and I feel that Åpne Sinn will quickly evolve into an artist to keep an ear on. This is a superb first effort that simply gleams with potential.
Available from Relaxed Machinery.