Often during late night listening sessions, whilst suitably relaxed, you look at the options differently, spotting something that was somehow overlooked. All Skies Have Sounded, the latest album by The Transcendence Orchestra, found itself added to the OBLADADA music folder this June when it was released. However, at the time, we must have been seduced by something more apparently dynamic.
Other than listener laziness, the simple reason we missed All Skies Have Sounded is the fact, after some casual spin, we concluded that it gently did what we expected – a pleasing ambient passage of sound. Those first few moments as a tester, and indeed what followed, easily morphing into whatever else was vying for our attention.
But on one recent evening’s exploration, we zoned in on the album and this time, the volume was up and our mind, far more eager to follow the details within the music. Those gentle curtains of sound quickly unveiling something hugely rewarding.
The Transcendence Orchestra is the work of Anthony Child and Daniel Bean and All Skies Have Sounded is their third album. The UK pair’s debut Modern Methods For Ancient Rituals was a joyous heartfelt gathering of earthy drones. The second was the widescreen beauty of Feel the Spirit, an album that formed a soothingly bucolic soundtrack to our summer lockdown last year.
All Skies Have Sounded, however feels like a much more abstracted form of beauty. The first two tracks perfectly showcasing the subtle detailing that has the power to sweep you off your feet. The opener Having My Head Is Felt grows around a chunky looping signals and droning vectors before slowly corroding into watery orchestral vapour. It’s almost 7 minutes feeling like a buffer between whatever you were doing before listening and preparing you for what comes next…
Only Out Perfect revisits that deeply psychedelic modular bouncing ball madness of Popul Vuh’s Affenstunde before fanning out into droning transmissions. Somehow these signals mesh into a staggeringly beautiful arc of sound like that spine tingling section in Takesugi Kosugi’s orgasmic hair pin in Catch Wave, turned into the most emotive space film scene we have never seen…
The music fizzes in active and amazing details, Marker Against Mountain hanging in guitar strums and laden atmospheric that forms into sonic crust. Weather Series feels like a location described in sound – an odd lysergic plateau where some kosmic flautist jams with mountain top radio static.
Gliding Up Good spends 12 minutes slowly fire balling into glorious neon lit chaos, whilst Going Upstairs (Imagine It Orange) reveal tiny puddles of rhythm and ripples radiating out of every sound. By this point, the whole album starts to feel like a submerged rock album that’s been pulverised, stretched, and obliterated in ways that render every surface as huge porous new versions of themselves. A process that’s lifted elements from whole room sized record collections and boiled everything down into outrageously potent stock cubes.
Underneath all the layering, Satsuma Felt Slow could almost be a tightly focussed rhythmic bundle but yet again it’s rendered into a woozy shapeshifting dreamscape. Nothing here is allowed to focus, foreground and background becoming superbly interchangeable.
The 12 minute closer, Own Your Dreams Again starts down a glassy corridor before the smear of string quartet encroaches like a standing wave. The fibres and sinuous of the music vibrating in some shuddering moiré pattern.
Everything feels like a group that has finally found a uniquely engrossing way to make and present their music. The titles feel like they are unlocked from some ancient text, enigmatic words and concepts that are also shrouded in something fundamentally bizarre. The sleeve features the work of Vidya Gastaldon, Healing Painting (Sirène géante), 2016 we presume a found painting that the artist reworked. Even the crop of the image somehow awkwardly exposing the physical nature of the sleeve itself and that sense of unease seeps through all these odd layers…
Written and recorded during a global pandemic, in a world exhausted by all sorts of negativity, it’s hard not to see this album as one that was worked on with a very particular focus – a weird sort of chill out, a perturbed bliss. Hindsight also now frames this Mego release as one of the last albums framed in Peter Rehberg’s living breathing vision. Another silver lining in the cloud.
All these factors, and more, convey the belief everything happening in All Skies Have Sounded is underpinned by some sort of map and buried structure. Whilst the album is seemingly protected by ramparts of ambient pleasantries, it’s actually a blisteringly deep vulnerable listen, painting a space like a radical and effected version of reality.
Whilst it took a while for us to actually get to All Skies Have Sounded, we are delighted we did. It’s an amazingly complex feast – where everything is double dipped in syrupy alchemy.
All Skies Have Sounded is out now, on vinyl, cd and digital from Editions Mego