DIGITAL HORIZONS: The Movement of Mercury (2020)
Updated: Jan 6
“If you like slow cosmic symphonies tied up to sequencer-based ambient rhythms you can't miss this latest Digital Horizons album”
1 So Near the Source 7:45
2 Deep Space Diaries 7:26
3 Immeasurable 6:21
4 Plasmatic 10:09
5 Mission One 10:02
6 The Movement of Mercury 20:48
7 Distance Learning 13:53
(DDL 76:28) (V.F.)
(Sequencer-based ambient beats)
If you like slow cosmic symphonies, you can't miss this latest Digital Horizons album! Structured on slow movements which little by little explores the dimensions of the sequencer, MOVEMENT OF MERCURY is this kind of album which has no obstacle in order to charm us. From a slow start to a finale with the scents of Steve Roach using his sequencer in a vision as ethereal as animated of peaceful ambient rhythms, this excellent album by Justin Ludford reaches an exceptional level that the England musician has never reached. At least from what I know of him!
Immersive and enveloping, So Near the Source is a slow atmospheric title that moves through its collection of high-sounding implosions. The synth pads have opalescent hues and their frosted aspects give a coppery tone that multiplies and clings into a huge canvas with buzzing movements and moments of intensity equal to those of Michael Stearns in Chronos. It's a lethargic piece of music provided with an astonishing intensity which is explained by the static radiation of its buzzing. We still have this feeling of being in the cosmic universes of the Californian musician with Deep Space Diaries and its arpeggios shimmering in keyboard/synth riffs that spin in a cosmos filled with stars, their murmurs and their sparkles. Without programmed rhythms, the ambiences, like the music, become a sedentary magma which advances while turning slowly on itself with its mass of limpid chords. Chords that stand out to generate a cosmic choreography where the void even flirts with these tones and which plunges us into a silent cosmic phase. The riffs then resonate like chimes and its reverberating shadow spreads a permanent tissue that shakes our drowsiness with an unexpected spasmodic rhythm. A rhythm that is born a little after the 5th minute, plunging these lethargic riffs into a structure even flirting with a zest of Electronica. Immeasurable also falls into our ears like an unexpected gift in a cosmic work. First of all, its flow is sharp and curt. Justin Ludford takes a sequence, isolates it and makes it dance on the spot like a rhythmic spring flirting with the atmospheric complexities of the synth. The sequence follows the curve of ambiences structured by a bass line radiating from its rhythmic portion as well as resonant and some juicy synth/keyboard chords. The panorama remains cosmic with lines of synth whistling serenity and layers of blue fog. A very good title! After a slow opening melted between lines and streaks of azure voices going on with a processional rise, Plasmatic awakens to the sound of a kind of harpsichord playing alternately with a keyboard. The sequence structures an austere procession adorned with tonal jewels and alternate sequences that scrutinize the rhythmic possibilities parallel to this rhythmic England phlegm. Throughout, shimmering arpeggios stand in a phantom mass which radiates a little more in the sphere of tranquility of this title which will split twice rather than a robotic rhythm and the static effect of the shimmers of its arpeggios.
Built in three phases hiding a few rhythmic steps, Mission One feeds on cosmic waves which gather in a drifting sound mass that a skipping rhythmic line stings with spasmodic bites. In fact, these figures of rhythms are buried by a constantly developing sound mass, structuring these rhythms that we lose of ears for so much that everything around them becomes opaque. The bass line ensures the survival of these rhythms that we can hear articulate when the sails of these ambiences distance themselves, but it remains short moments in a convoluted structure. The first 9 minutes of the title track are nourished by the essences of the opening piece, either be a long ambient phase. Except that here the color of the sound is sharper as the chords come off to become these sparkling stars whose shimmers add to the latent blossoming of the music. We also feel a certain velocity take hold of The Movement of Mercury when more chords get untie to dance with the stars. Some of these chords have a percussive element. And always, this long eponymous title to THE MOVEMENT OF MERCURY invites us to this weightlessness effect which marks the realism of the title. I am deeply moved when the movement begins to turn on itself with a melody that has always haunted my nights, hanging on to the slow whirlwind of The Movement of Mercury which now marries an ambient Berlin School with its more accelerated rotary impetus. Between M'Ocean and Structure from Silence, The Movement of Mercury settles comfortably in the row of titles to have injected me with a dose of chills and which will become an eternal companion for my nights to come. Splendid, majestic and incredibly touching! I think this track should have ended the album, except Distance Learning has not blowing its last beating. In a structure of ambiences which corresponds to those found here, this last title of MOVEMENT OF MERCURY brings us towards an ambient chromed electronic rock with a kind of rhythmic canon which is similar to the first sequencer movements of Steve Roach in Now & Traveler and Stormwarning. A superb album my friends!
THE MOVEMENT OF MERCURY is the proof by ten that you have to take the time to listen the music before throwing its container away. My first communion with this album had not given me any good at all. And this is not the first time that this has happened to me with a Digital Horizons album. I remembered that the music was ambient and it was when I had the taste to hear something new and ambient that I put the album between my ears. To tell you the emotions that came to me when I discovered this album would take too much time in this review. At least go listen to it on its Bandcamp site. I am waiting for your comments!
Sylvain Lupari (January 1st, 2021) ****½*
Available at Digital Horizons Bandcamp