Mingo, The Light That Bends

Mingo’s music comes from a place where the world is shrouded in a state of constant half-light, never entirely out of shadow, filled with moments that swell with expectation then  pass with a sigh. A place where it’s enough to be present, watching sonic vistas rise from mist and crumble back without remorse. On his newest release, The Light That Bends, Mingo takes that feel and pairs it intermittently with beats that range from slow post-rock drums to ritualistic tribal clatter, never raising his music’s voice above a dusky whisper, because he doesn’t need to. Ambient constructs drift and shift, curving gently around the beats; the movement between the two is sublime. After the rising-dawn softness of “First Light,” Mingo places his first beat–that lazy post-rock count-off–in the title track, sliding it in place next to a charmingly clumsy one-note-at-a-time piano melody. In the background, hazy colors of sound wash through. Halfway through, the beats and melody clear out to make space for a thoughtful, twinkling drift. Mingo shifts to the tribal side with “Reflections of Apprehension,” the drums pulsing over another calmly moving driftbank. A very nice treat, especially if you’ve been with Mingo from the start, is when he reaches back to his first album to pull the essential tones from “Hollow Ascension” and reworks them into “Second Ascension.” Here again the centerpiece is a hesitant melody, accented with echo and played over arcing voice pads and a steady 3-count beat. “Translation of Lost Consciousness” begins the movement toward a more ambient sound, its swirling depth punctuated with the last of the beats (for a while)–a slowly fading blend of electronic claps and drums. Things turn toward darkness with “Erosion As the Day,” imparting a certain hold-your-breath suspense with long, rising pads that feel like they’re striving hard to find light. Church bells peal in counter to the rattle of collapsing metal. The final two tracks, “Resplendent Descent” and “Last Light,” land squarely in that half-lit realm. The first is filled with chirping birdsong, as if they’re trying to urge along  dawn that never quite arrives. Darker tones sit immovably at the lower end of the sound, vestiges of night that refuse to go until the final hopeful chord. The second is driven by a twanging sequencer line, underscored by a low hiss (also heard in “First Light”). The potential energy of the sequencer always feels ready to take off and yet–remains just potential. This is the last light and no one’s going anywhere. The shadows reform around us, and it’s time to begin again.

The Light That Bends is another superb release from Mingo that showcases the depth of his ambient ideas.

Available at the Mingosphere.

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