(11.09.06) Following up their last release, the excellent My Dogan by Kettel, the Sending Orbs label delivers the long delayed Disfold by Blamstrain. The reason for the delay: Finnish artist, Juho Hietala felt compelled to pull the plug on the original release date in order to further hone and fine tune the eight amazing works collected on this CD, aspiring to a level of perfection that has, I think you will agree, been fully realized.
The tools with which we need to equip ourselves for the journey through Disfold are once again provided courtesy of the stunning artistic talents of Jeroen Advocaat. A publicity shot from the metropolis we are visiting adorns the front cover, that of a metro train at a station, the hazy orb ridden skies and towering buildings of the violet lit city looming in the background. The metro map of our journey has been provided on the reverse of the package, plotting our stops from “Diacedita” across the city to our eighth and final destination stop, “A Song for Jonas.” Simply insert your pre-printed ticket into the CD player and we are ready to depart.
Our train arrives at the station, and as the doors open, muffled conversation, the sound of cars and other trains, and the chime of a tnnoy greet us as we disembark and make our way to the exit. A gong heralds our emergence into “Diacedita:” ethnic wind chimes, insect chatter, and the muted sound of buskers echoing from some distant corridor. Prepare yourself for a journey through the hazy city from a possible future.
“Sight of Field” reveals an awe inspiring vista of towering, violet hued offices, apartment blocks and sky-scrapers, their softened edges melding with the unmistakable shapes of impossibly vast caterpillars and vividly colored insects while alongside them impossibly gigantic plant life sprouts from their walls and the ground. The perfumes and dulled sounds of the city mingle with those of the flowers and insect life, an intoxicating yet familiar and relaxing experience.
“The thing you hate me for is also a part of the rest of me you love” sees us catch another metro, this time a much more fraught, paranoid and oppressive experience, accompanied by the dull thudding of a heart beat as we are channeled through the underground tunnels like blood cells. The journey is accompanied by muffled clatters and clacks, the rushing of wind and more vinyl crackle, that press in upon us with ever increasing intensity until it practically pounds inside our heads.
Just as it seems we are in danger of losing consciousness, we are released into “Nyt Revisited.” On the streets again, the audible thudding of a nightclub close by is all but washed away by the heavy rainfall of a humid summer shower. After a number of minutes this abruptly cuts out, as a radio is re-tuned and a plane flies overhead. Light and fresh air flood in on a breeze of airy, atmospheric pads and crystalline, cascading synthesisers, leading directly into “Frame Math,” a more melodic than atmospheric experience that provides some welcome shelter from the intensity of the rest of Disfold.
After the slow, loping bass line thuds and heavily distorted, wowing synths that conclude the piece, “Revelation 21:1” hits us, and our journey through Disfold reaches its atmospheric peak. All semblance of background rhythm and melody gone, we are thrust into the surging, blinking, whooshing heart of the city. The constant rumble of trains and cars, the sounds of light rainfall, the occasional blare of a horn in the distance, bleeps, whirs. The timbre and intensity changes throughout, slowly drowning out the muffled drones that form the backbone of the piece. “Revelation 21:1” is a dense, atmosphere-transforming piece that sounds like it has taken forever to put together and perfect. It will transform your living room into the centre park of a sprawling and slightly alien futuristic metropolis.
“Spring/summer” follows as deep, booming undercurrents buoy up strange and muffled electrical chatter which is slowly subsumed by the sounds of more industrial screeching and debris that finally reveals itself as out final train arriving.
The final leg of our journey, “A Song for Jonas,” sees a haunting melody carried to us through the darkened tunnels of the underground along with the hypnotic and deep drones from some far off power source or machinery. We accelerate towards a speeding train, the melody lost in the sound of powerful engines firing, wheels clattering along rails and the rush of the wind that whips at us until, finally on top of the vehicle and with one final earth-shattering thump, we stop dead and the train is lost in the distance.
Disfold is a brilliant ambient creation, and its only real flaws are two instances of timing: “Sight of Field” is woefully short, given that it is once of the most driving and instantly recognizable pieces on Disfold, whilst the eventually rather numbing “The thing you have me for is also a part of the rest of me you love” is over-extended and far more oppressive than perhaps it should be. It does make a point; it’s just not a particularly pleasant one.
Disfold has been a labor of love for Blamstrain, a project that has apparently taken Hietela four years to be happy enough with to release. This love is evident in every facet of the work, making this one of the most immersive and intense ambient albums released for some time. Essential.
Disfold is out now on Sending Orbs.