By the time I am finished listening to Ionosphere’s Nightscape, I feel that I must step out of the thick grey fog that has surrounded me for an hour and make my way, rather reluctantly, out to the real world. And let me tell you, it’s a long walk back. Erik H. Sander’s work on these eleven tracks skirts the very edge of dark ambient, tucking his listeners into that place where fading shadow meets true night in a blend that’s as lulling and hypnotic as it is brooding. One compliment I can give this release is that whenever I’ve listened to it, I’ve had a very strong urge to just lay in the dark with my phones on and let it take me wherever we end up. It’s an album I want to listen to as closely and fully as possible to maximize the experience. A majority of my listening session have been with the phones on but attending to other matters in the meantime, and quite frequently I’ve found that I have stopped attending to those things and instead wandered mentally off into the sound. The pace overall is soporifically slow, but every element is in constant motion—and there are a lot of elements. Textures rise and change, radio transmissions are intercepted, tiny sounds track azimuthal courses across our minds, and it all happens in that glorious half-light. There’s a lot to take in if you can remain focused. (You won’t.) I like the slightly stuttering bass riff that emerges in the middle of “Radio Altitude.” It adds motion to a whispering construct dotted with the aforementioned transmissions, but also ups the hypnotic quotient as it repeats over and over. The quite-dark “Orbit Determination” places a ritual chant at its core, working itself into a churning rhythm over sighing pads. There’s another drop in here, a snippet of Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” speech. “The Silence Underneath” has a hold-your-breath grimness to it as it unfolds into a dense layers of breathy drones. On the somewhat calmer side, “Palilicium” pitches more into a hushed spacemusic tone. A slight percussive pulse low in the mix insinuates a rhythm into your head.
Nightscape is a totally immersive ambient journey that absolutely demands long, looped play and up-close listening. Sander’s blending of quiet and dark is seamless and never wanders too far into either realm. The balance is exquisite. Get yourself into some dim light, set aside the distractions, and go deep into this excellent release. A must-hear from Ionosphere.
Available from Loki-Found.