The new release from Jeff Talman not only offers up 45 minutes of mind-salving, drifting ambient, it also has the “oh, cool” factor of having manipulated wave sounds, recorded by hydrophone, seismometer and microphone, as its basic sound-set. As Talman’s press release notes, the sounds here include”the ‘hum of the earth’–oscillation sounds of the earth as created by the worldwide impact of ocean wave sounds on the sea floor, much as a thudding bass sound might cause the floor and walls of a room to vibrate.” The music here was originally presented as an outdoor installation piece in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, where the recorded music was augmented by the sound of waves crashing below. Given its genesis and initial intention, Sea of Curves can be a little iffy as a direct listen. It’s almost too ethereal and random to hold your attention, and its single sound-set doesn’t afford much variation. It is what it is. But played in the manner in which it was intended, as something that enhances an existing atmosphere by seeping into it rather than by giving it immediate attention, Sea of Curves definitely finds its place. The sounds are naturally meditative, ebbing and flowing in intensity and also shifting from simple calm to darker-toned stretches that seem almost ominous. So there’s a somewhat dynamic aspect there. The upside is that it’s easy to internalize the music, as it offers nothing interruptive, no rhythmic moments to involve body rather than mind, or odd turns of timbre to pull you out of the flow. It just rolls along, its breathy tone feeling in spots like a tune that’s been run through Paulstretch. Like all good ambient, though, it lets you get lost in it at your own pace, then finds places to make you aware of it again. It’s an interesting experiment, but it must be said that the sameness of the sound across 45 minutes may turn some listeners off. Others may find ocean-like depths within these waves.
Available from Jeff Talman’s web site.