The late great John Cage once commented that it wasn’t so much what dancers actually did but the ardour with which they did it that impressed him the most. In a way, it’s something we all sense in any engagement with an artist’s ideas. Has the artist fully committed themselves, worked hard to deliver the headiest most potent form, or been lazy and presented something easy?
So, when Processional – Ascending Numinous Mounta, the opening 35 minutes track on SKYMYTH, by Sam Genovese, incrementally seeps into your speaker via a glacial fade in, it’s instantly clear this is something that’s been loving worked over in microscopic intense detail. Layers of tape dragging, lop sided elements slowly aligning into a deep blizzard, painted in broad strokes of Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS via a bank of speakers all beginning to lose battery power at different rates of decay.
Knots in the music slowly twist and rise like contours on a map, valleys and peaks half viewed through mist and static. Framed by the title, the whole piece eventually aligns like some huge vision of horns and gongs reverberating through vast Himalayan spires. Eventually the foreground becomes more apparent, like a whole new layer solidifies and then evaporates into the deep blue/black void at the edge of our atmosphere.
In a way, the opening track almost feels like enough in its own right, but Genovese follows on with 4 shorter companion pieces. Image Storm and Vatic Projection both handle rough fragments to reveal rhythmic clusters and snatches of orchestral colour. Signals for Signs works over and over what feels like tiny fragments of horns etched into beams of light, on the razors edge between feedback and the infinite.
The closer, Palm-to-Palm We Greet the Aeons is like the orchestra is somehow 3D printed into an endless strand of DNA, as it stutters and wobbles itself to life. In the last few minutes, pixel swatches slowly gather revealing more and more details in the texture.
Genovese stacks tiny orchestral gestures into vast textured chasms over its 66-minute life span. The sounds all feel like they grow out of an instrument devised swell, worked over in various ways to make a haunting granular form of ambience. Whilst the whole album is dominated by the vast opener, it emits a powerful filmic harvesting and processing of sounds throughout.
SKYMYTH might grow out a form of ambience but this is no vague background mood enhancer. Deep within these pieces are storm fronts and atoms of music sucking your ears and mind into something oddly beautiful and infinitely dynamic…
SKYMYTH is released digitally here on April 23