I was quite excited at the prospect of hearing this following on from Mosca’s previous release last autumn, the huge tectonic ambience of Blue Sunshine One, a free download through Phantom Channel. My first listen to Swimmer, late at night and at low volume, swept over me without leaving much of an impression, though. I filed it away for a week as ‘one to return to’. When I did, I sensibly gave it more wattage, and it all came together.
Suitable touchstones would be the metallic dronescapes of BJ Nilsen and Biosphere’s more ambient works. This is particularly true of the three ten minute plus epics that dominate the middle of the record. “You Were Always So Charming” has the ghostly Arctic chill of horizon-free grey/white snowscapes. “A Grim Winter Awakes Us” is equally cold in atmosphere, but darker and, well, grimmer. The choral ghosts of “Nosferatu” conjour up visions of outer space horror movies, be they psychological like Solaris, or deal with a very real physical threat like Alien.
Opener “Glider” is the closest the album gets to traditional ambient chill-out music. In fact it reminds me of a beatless remix of an Aphex Twin track off Selected Ambient Works 1, but it’s bugging me which one. “Honour Hold” breaks the beatific spell with a dense, high volume drone and “That Which Is Not Loved Will Surely Die” ups the ante even more with monumental organ chords orbited by a swirling phalanx of sound. Then it cuts out suddenly and disconcertingly – something that several of the tracks do. The churning engine reverb of “Sunshine” is swathed in glassy upper end, and brings to mind the spectacular visuals of Danny Boyle’s underrated sci-fi movie of the same name.
Towards the end of the album, there is a very noticeable lightening of mood. “Fabric” is all crystalline synths and ringing guitar that’s almost pop in comparison to what precedes it. “Starliner Tower Apartments” is a muffled and crackly organ piece that sounds like a hangover, but the bright and reverberating Fender Rhodes of “Saturday Night” provides an uplifting and fairly unadorned closure to an album that has moments of both calm and savagery. First impressions are often correct, but on this occasion they were way off beam. Swimmer works best at volume. Stars of the Lid it isn’t.
The album is out on June 15th.
1 Glider 10:00
2 Honour Hold 2:37
3 That Which Is Not Loved Will Surely Die 6:32
4 Sunshine 3:44
5 Closer to the Golden Dawn 5:14
6 You Were Always So Charming 12:28
7 Nosferatu 11:37
8 Counselor 2:40
9 A Grim Winter Awaits Us 10:00
10 Fabric 5:06
11 Starliner Tower Apartments 3:50
12 Saturday Night 2:56