New Rome :: Nowhere (Room40)

A rich harmonic vein rooted in classic ambient ‘scapism, seen as if through a glaze darkly, via a ’70s-’90s synth-prism.

New Rome :: Nowhere (Room40)

New Rome is the new musical home for Tomasz Bednarczyk, whom discerning ’00s ambient-electronica watchers will recall from a trio of accomplished albums, two of them Room40 editions. Summer Feelings and Painting Sky Together were distinguished by ‘restrained almost fragile aesthetics, […] dense with emotive spatial character and powerful imagined narrative,’ and ‘taking the most restrained compositional actions and allowing them to unfold with a hazy stillness that blurs time. […] crisp and fragile, but ultimately its textures are overwhelmingly warm and generous.’

Re-surfacing after a not-quite M.I.A. but decidedly lower profile period, Bednarczyk resumes normal service with Nowhere, mining a rich harmonic vein rooted in classic ambient ‘scapism (Eno to SAW II), seen as if through a glaze darkly, via a ’70s-’90s synth-prism triangulated by Vangelis, Klaus Schulze and Global Communication. Yet it’s also attended by a more contemporary spirit, sounding refreshed, remade and remodelled, some noting it ‘arriving somewhere at the perimeter of OPN’s earlier work.’ These pieces outfold gracefully with a pastoral-melancholic lilt-tilt, sometimes beatless, often on a rhythmic base; New Rome locates itself with fluid mercurial coordinates, a home for nostalgic reverie, glacial timbres wrapped in warm bass folds. Seeking seemingly to tap into the experience of falling into and emerging from winter, it floats free from anchorage; from “Tumble”‘s wistful swathes through “Cat”‘s yearning contrails to “Beginning”‘s billowing beauty, Nowhere is a site that unites absence and presence framed by Bednarczyk’s methodology—one of space configured for engaged drift.

Two years ago, on SAW II‘s 20th, contemplating “Rhubarb,” Raggett (2014) wrote of ‘a feeling of high church on a distant peak. If the ghost of figures like Eno inevitably hangs over anything that could be called ambient […] what James did here […] was to translate the impulse and suggest other ways to work with it. […] it’s as close to ambience as gentle balm as one could want, but even then it’s not really that, enveloping in its stripped down beauty but so stately, so focused, warm and cold at the same time.’ Nowhere‘s best is imbued with this spirit.
Raggett, Ned (2014) “Lingering Memory: Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works II, 20 Years On.” The Quietus, Feb 24 2014

Nowhere is available on Room40.

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