Often, when a piece of music is created to accompany another form of art, there can be a bit of a “lost in translation” feeling. Or, at least, the curiosity of what it might have been like in context can mar the listening experience. Ryan Huber’s Abiff’s Gaze is an ambient backdrop for artist Erik Waterkotte’s 2014 installation piece, “An Abridged Equinox.” Waterkotte’s work explores “popular culture, myth, and fantasy as conveyed through printmaking and mixed media.” In this work, he covered the walls of the gallery with specially designed wallpaper showing images of churches one of his ancestors built in Illinois. In an interview, the artist said he is “interested in images and representations of mystical places that carry some kind of symbolism…[and] how we’ve put a significance on something or built something for a kind of transcendental purpose.” (Charlotte Observer, January 2014.) In building an atmosphere for the installation, Huber crafts a darkly reverent space built on whispering, low-end drones. Small environmental sounds, like the crunch of soft footsteps on gravel and taps of wood or stone, lend a sense of environment and also hint at something bordering on primal. It is the sound of another place, far back, that still resonates in us. On his website, Huber notes that the music is “Ritualistic audio inspired by the story of Hiram Abiff and the construction of the Temple of Solomon,” which has roots in Freemasonry. Thus, the air of mystery that surrounds it. I could see where this would make for a very effective accompaniment to Waterkotte’s dark images, moving in the air around the art; it’s also quite effective as a deep listening experience. I am used to Huber bringing more aggressive sounds in his Sujo and Olekranon identities, but here he also shows a very skilled hand at more subtle work. He still manages to convey a touch of unease, so he retains his dark-ambient cred, and the dimensional aspect of his mix is excellent. The sounds are well spaced and dynamic. It also has that oddly calming effect that comes with darker drones, easing you into a slightly displaced state of mind. Despite this work being meant for open-air ambience, I highly recommend taking the headphone dive on this one. Take in all of Huber’s craft, and let it loop a while. Fans of more shadowy sensations will enjoy this one, but it’s definitely worth a listen across the board.
Available from Bandcamp.