Åpne Sinn, En Seier

In his second outing, Åpne Sinn (aka Geoff Small) enlists ambient friends Steve Brand and Peter James in pulling together a strong blend of drifting ambient washes that glide across understated tribal touches and skirt the edge of shadow when they’re not simply easing forward with cloud-motion grace. The pacing here is wonderful; it’s part of what makes the disc stand out. Small skillfully guides the listener through his spaces, starting with “Son of Low Birth,” where that tribal percussion loops around intersecting bell-curve pads. There’s a strong touch of Roach in the flow, but it’s all Åpne Sinn at the core, and the sound layers run deep. From here the flows cools into a long stretch of quiet music. Brand is called in for one of the longest tracks here, “Unconquered,” to kick off this section. Brand’s signature is a vast, contemplative expanse of ambient washes, and that feel blends readily into Small’s often slow-handed constructs. There’s very good chemistry here that results in a warm and somewhat dark drift. The next track, “His Great Heart,” continues the quiet with yawning drones that sound quite like a harmonium. Again, there’s a quality of warmth at work; this piece has a very personal feel, like there’s an unspoken dedication being made. James joins Small for “What Rough Beast.” This is the darkest track on En Seier, working up from a low grumble and what to my ears sounds like the crackle of a fire. It does indeed slouch its way through its eight-minute length, trailing a slight sense of unease. The detail here is fantastic, and the atmosphere is just thick with sound. For that it’s matched only by “Still Transmitting,” where Small employs reverse echo over soft drones and creates a cool sense of something coming back at your from a distance, some forgotten message still carried on unseen waves. Small eases the beat back in in the form of subdued heartbeat pulses that open into light percussion on “The Long Plains,” the second collaboration with Brand. It subtly marks the end of that rich, quiet stretch and brings us back to the surface before the disc closes with the absolute sighing softness of “Deep Breath Out”–an accurate title if ever there was one. It’s 12 minutes of meditation-perfect ambient pads breathing slowly. The feel is light, calm and utterly unhurried. Looping this track alone would make for a superb ambient listen. Which would be fine, but I suggest you simply loop En Seier for a while, like I did. The way it’s paced turns it into a very workable circular listen, a quite complete journey. Just allow yourself to be guided along and trust Geoff Small to get you where you’re going. This is a great sophomore release and, as I said with his debut Espiritista, firmly marks Åpne Sinn as a name worth listening to and remembering.

Available from Relaxed Machinery.

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