igloo review – The Sense of Time

Impresses as a contemporary update of classic ambient space cadence that manages to both lull and engage, to be serene, even blissful, without falling prey to the insipid tendencies of some of the recent jumpers on the No-Age and post-Kosmische synth bandwagon.

Sjaak Overgaauw is not a name that will resonate especially strongly, that is unless you’re an adept of the Antwerp ambient scene. Under the moniker Premonition Factory, he’s been a leading light in the international looping community, with previous work eliciting references to proto-ambient pioneers – from early/mid-period Tangerine Dream (see, e.g., Rubycon) and Klaus Schulze (cf. Mirage) to Budd/Eno (The Pearl). More than this, though, The Sense of Time, like the preceding 59 Airplanes Waiting for New York, is imbued with the presiding spirit of fellow-Belgian buddy Dirk Serries, once Vidna Obmana, whose help, if not influence, Overgaauw readily acknowledges.

The Premonition Factory sound seems to derive in no small measure from its semi-improvised provenance, in particular the compositional technique of interactive live looping – a continuous cumulative exchange between musicianly spontaneity and processing design. It’s partly this methodology, but also a certain kindred spirit of sound and vision, that further cements the Vidna connection – though note the fabric of The Sense of Time comes spun from richer, more thickly woven thread. Default production’post-production sequence is eschewed, as the music is captured, still, as it were, in motion. Those feeling queasy at the prospect of jam session-type noodlings needn’t fret, though. The origins of these tracks may lie in extended improvisations, but the key is in targeted on-the-hoof editing interventions, wherein Overgaauw zeroes in on nuggets of the music of chance, plucks them out and renders them with a certain architectural alchemy. It’s only when a revenant motif, perhaps re-pitched, or otherwise altered, swims up to the surface that the skeleton of process shows; otherwise discrete elements are evanescent, submerged in an undertow of shapeshift and shadowdrift, slivers of spectral melody flitting across a lowlight backdrop. Overgaauw’s spatial strategies serve up a soundtrack to daydream slow lid close (“Chasing the Unknown”) and nocturnal fall inward (“Desolate”) alike. What might be limitation for some here becomes virtue, endowing tracks like “Dream within a Dream” with their oneiric quality: no Ur, no Logos, no Telos, tones are suspended like dust motes in lightrays. The sound is ramped up to its most maximal with the foot-on-the-monitor pulse’n’atmo of the title track, dipping its toe in seas of throbbing Kosmische boogie (no unseemly rock pools stirred up, mind). Shades of Vidna waft through “Electric” and “Magic Box,” opener “Darkest Hour Pt. 1″ having already summoned up some ghosts of old school US space music (cf. ’80s Michael Stearns, ’90s Steve Roach, ’00s Thom Brennan). In closing, too, the vaporous delay-drenched piano of “Mediate” hangs around somewhere close to The River of Appearance, rippling out to infinity swathed in the treatment-trails of its own stretched timbres.

Overall, for all that it delights in harking back, The Sense of Time is no mere throwback to ’90s stylings. It impresses as a contemporary update of classic ambient space cadence that manages to both lull and engage, to be serene, even blissful, without falling prey to the insipid tendencies of some of the recent jumpers on the No-Age and post-Kosmische synth bandwagon. For those wishing to suck and see, there’s a free promo EP containing two tracks from each album, including the title track and “Dream within a Dream” (download here).

The Sense of Time is out now on Longstreet.

source: igloo magazine

Back To Top