At a point near the start of Solaris, the stunning 1972 film by Andrei Tarkovsky, a character gets ready to embark on a voyage into outer space. The character’s last scene on earth unfurls in a famously extended sequence filmed through the twisting geometries of Tokyo’s inner-city motorway network.
The camera tracks the vehicle as it snakes through underpasses and over bridges, thoughtfully transitioning between austere black and white and vivid colour. The sequence echoes the 2001: A Space Odyssey stargate sequence, but as an earthbound start to a journey, not a bizarre multidimensional wormhole end-point.
The fact it’s all the more familiar makes the Solaris sequence all the stranger. A mediation on the buzz of tarmac, the angular changing landscape, and swooshing of other road users over a bed of tumbling outer-space electronics.
The first five minutes of Clouded Night Pt2 on Tint threw me straight back into that very scene. That strange way of transporting a listener to the point where the familiar becomes the magnetically weird. The sense of fragmented field recordings, metallic bird-like chirping, and a corkscrewing psychedelic wave of sound. This section has an inky black quality that is as exhilarating as it is wholly kosmische.
It’s interesting to note that Joe Talia is an Australian recently moved to Tokyo. It’s not difficult to imagine the sensory impact of diving (or driving) head-first into the writhing Japanese metropolis. Clouded Night Pt1 and Clouded Night Pt2 fill the entire 41 minutes of his new album Tint and feel like an attempt to bottle a similar space. The night sky is always full of many degrees of subtlety, a void way more active than just a blank darkness. It is, after all, our window to the universe. As a model, it’s easy to see this hugely intoxicating sound journey as an attempt to capture this vast experience.
Joe Talia is a name that’s littered several recordings we have loved. He’s collaborated with Oren Ambrachi (whose label Black Truffle releases Tint), Jim O’Rourke, and James Rushford. He’s a highly respected drummer, and a recording and mixing engineer with countless release credits.
While it sits under one banner, Clouded Night Pt1 and Clouded Night Pt2 plays out revealing strangely mutated episodes. Using his deep knowledge as a percussionist, studio engineer, and performer on analog electronic instruments (primarily modular synth and Revox tape machine), Talia creates a richly textured journey through sumptuously inventive sounds.
As the album title- and track-names play with, there’s a sense of sound obscured by darkness. It’s never actually very clear what any sound is, nor whether it’s important beyond painting an ever-heaving texture. The opening 10 minutes of Clouded Night Pt1 slowly expands with a mechanical clicking that sounds like water drips or a playing card in bike spokes. Around the 13-minute mark, the sound weaves a thread of Gastr Del Sol’s Our Exquisite Replica of Eternity. The sound disappears leaving a huge empty void in the sky revealing a shimmer of cymbals and radio fragments. A gap between clouds in the night sky.
Like Jean Claude Eloy’s planet-sized masterpiece Gaku-No-Michi, itself a sonic portrait of Toyko, that similar sense of riding a pocket of air that could be sucked through a jet engine never seems far away. There is a continual sense of drama built up through magnificently controlled banks of sounds. While the album could play out as some form of dark ambience, it’s only when the volume dial gets turned up that the power of the album really starts to beam. And the final section pushes and pulls in a way that echoes Markus Schmickler’s SATOR ROTAS before crumbling into a pile of throbbing rubble.
Tint is an incredible, deep, and mysterious listen, but it’s bizarre vapour trails make it thoroughly engaging. A great degree of subtlety is cut into these grooves. Tint feels like a superbly realised, technically impeccable, slow-motion camera pan; a mediation on minute changes and muted edges. The continually unexpected weirdness that drips from this album is just perfect to my ears—an incredible, top quality, spacey listen.