AMONGST MYSELVES: The Good Earth (2020)
“One of the best Dark Ambient album I heard in a long time”
1 Ediacara 12:43
2 On the Margins 20:30
3 Ikara 7:15
4 A Catalogue of Nights 9:03
5 All the Life We've Lived 10:05
6 I'd Hoped There'd Be Stars 7:56
(CD/DDL 65:02) (V.F.)
It's been a long time! Maybe a little too much since I loved this album from Amongst Myselves. More than that, I even found it excellent for a Dark Ambient album. From what I understand, there is indeed a gap of 6 years since The Past Is Another Country, which I reviewed in 2014, and this last opus from Steve Roberts. The Australian composer took advantage of this time to leave Adelaide and move to the Fleurieu peninsula. A healthy move that gave him a new vision to compose his next album. The work to conclude THE GOOD EARTH started in March 2013 to end in April 2014, and the result isn't really proportional to the time past on since the music is almost identical to the last album. Only my perception has changed since I let myself be captivated by the Dark Ambient. Amongst Myselves has a unique way of presenting their CDs. I remember this attractive cover from The Past Is Another Country. Although more understated here, this pristine white 6-panel digipack set hides the CD and a 20-minute Blu Ray that features shots of Steve Roberts' new territory. A Steve Roberts who demystifies the myth by presenting a cloud race at the opening of On the Margins. What I imagined to be a corridor to the abyss has become an azure blue sky smudged by the virginity of the white cloud sheep. Let's say that puts things back in their perspective.
The first 2 tracks of THE GOOD EARTH are more than intimately linked, they complete a fascinating sibylline symphony where the darkness waltzes with an abstract form of luminosity personified by filaments of shining or by the magnetic auras of movements of black masses which constantly make radiating this duality between the blue sky, the white cumulus clouds or these black clouds chiseled by lightning. But one thing remains: the intensity of the music and of its atmospheres. It's with a mixture of dark winds and ambient buzzing that Ediacara fits tightly between my ears. A dark mass pulls me into a cave that is at the size of my imagination. I hear the sounds of bats and other shady noises that root this perception of darkness in front of my feet. I also hear this translucent breeze that separates this ambient movement with diluted but persistent harmonies. The mass of hollow winds and of drones amplify its presence, at the same time as the harmonies take more and more their shapes. So much so that they weave a semi-seraphic decoration when Ediacara arrives halfway on its fictitious route. These lines engrave the moans as the dark mass returns more intensely in an unequal combat where it itself releases muffled incantations whose movements of shadows weave spectral harmonies, like pale reflections of the tribal songs that Mike Oldfield hung in The Songs of a Distant Earth. Quietly, Ediacara makes flee his last tumults in the introduction of On the Margins where the winds make chattering clothes. A giant dark shadow escapes from the opening, like a spectral song accompanied by wounded sparrows. Deafening sirens infiltrate the power of the winds whose radiant dust lets their presence heard by small harmonic particles. Winds and waves, the opening of On the Margins invades my headphones with another compact mass whose dull roars have the effect of drones, of Luciferian buzzes blowing in a bumpy horn. And these blows take on another dimension in the video offered on the Blu Ray. And like that, the images are symbiotic with the music. The night in this corner of the Earth is exceptional, like are these flamboyant sunrises, like this dance between the falling day and the coming night where the sun and the moon merge in a capricious dance. These elements and many other natural settings of Mount Little Station and Wahroonga allow us to connect with the essential inspirations of Amongst Myselves, perhaps disillusioning our perception but understanding a little more this link which unites a musician to his Earth. I also like these organic elements which always give a second vision to this musical genre.
Ikara envelops us with hums of spectral appearances moving with a seductive impulse. Steve Roberts pulls out his guitar and let glides waves of slide-guitar and, later, pensive chords in an electronic storm where crickets unite their night owl songs in some places. These rustles of an arid evening in the mountains of this peninsula accompany A Catalog of Nights. This track is as beautiful as On the Margins, while having a harmonic vision as subtle as the breath of an angel on our neck. The music is taciturn with these long purring breaths that synth pads collect with an endlessly seraphic vision. A soft dance follows between the two elements which could not be without the other, completing this duality woven so much in the complicity which becomes this twisted thread of the atmospheres of THE GOOD EARTH. All the Life We've Lived is an ambient title whose panoramic scrolling velocity is as intense as that starry night of Mount Little Station that we could watched on the Blu Ray. Explosions of meteors, sibylline filaments of a trail of fire from these meteors and seraphic chants are on the menu of the title, as well as a soft translucent synth pad which diffuses its harmonies camouflaged in the deafening of cosmic collisions or atmospheric disturbances. The music and its atmospheres break down for the last stretch of the title where big bellowings blow a threat in an idyllic fight between the dark and its opposite which has dominated all spheres, some more intense as in these last two titles, and which mystify again the faces of Dark Ambient music, because the dark and gloomy can hide behind every beauty. And everyone knows that beauty can be divinely deadly. A very strong album from Amongst Myselves!
Sylvain Lupari (August 4th, 2020) ****½*
Available at Among Myselves Music