Hervé Vanhems has adapted a variety of folk pulses—Native American, Hindu, Latin—and assimilated them into Mirages without having them seem this least bit out of place among his own, homegrown beats. And he has sculpted sonic textures that although airy are far from insubstantial.
[Release page] With its first physical release, Sonorefiction from Lille, France, intends to take the listener on a journey “beyond the rational.” Rhythmic ambience might be the right prism through which to view its sound, lightly choreographed, ritual mind dances. Hervé Vanhems has adapted a variety of folk pulses—Native American, Hindu, Latin—and assimilated them into Mirages without having them seem this least bit out of place among his own, homegrown beats. And he has sculpted sonic textures that although airy are far from insubstantial.
There is a locomotive and alpine motif that threads its way through the album. ”Keolis (Wind Heartbeat)” opens the album very organically, but even the by-rote and electronically programmed drumming—”À la Paresse” and ”Noma” are good examples—has a lively pliancy, like young, green branches. The rhythms and the ambiences are perfectly complementary, neither overtaking the other. It’s the whirling of the universe and the earth humming along. Both are subtle but distinct. “Pagura’s Home” draws deep, underwater breaths and is reminiscent of some of the classic moments of the second wave of ambient music, not unlike a warmer-climate Biosphere.
“Silent Watering” is an animated mash-up of field recording and deft drum’n bass, where a splashing, gurgling stream is converted into a beat. Directly after, “Silver Lagoon” comes literally crashing in, carrying an utterly mood-changing, funky bassline groove in on its curl. The ten-minute “Ayashuasca,” named after a psychoactive vine which grows in Peru brewed into tea and imbided by shamans, gives a mild and pleasant, bongo-beat buzz. The other lengthy track is dedicated to “weird fiction” pioneer H.P. Lovecraft. With its viscous, woozy atmosphere and tinny, strangulated vocal rant, it’s the bad trip on the album, a trip which fortunately ends with the exhilarating, head stuck out the window of a train rushing through the mountains “LoLib Dance,” not unreminiscent of Banco da Gaia’s “Last Train to Lhasa,” but less cluttered.
At seventy-one minutes, it is a generous, diverse offering. The mix of approaches works since there is a strong, unifying theme and intent.