It is “like stowing away on an ageing freight train as it winds its way from the balmy American South to an unnamed permafrost north.” That’s the premise of this album, which recalls everything from William Basinski (in its use of slightly decayed analogue tapes) to Chris Watson’s field recordings, to the KLF’s 1990 ambient trans-American odyssey Chill Out. Fossil Aerosol Mining Project are a shadowy collective who have been around since the early 1980s, long time associates of :zoviet*france, but for all the reminders it invokes and the ostensibly familiar topography it covers, this is an album, an experience like no other, 51 minutes of remote beauty and disquieting bliss.
As with their previous work, and hinted at in the cover photography of grassed-over, long demolished industrial complexes, Fossil Aerosol Mining Project are preoccupied with cultural debris, the ghostly outlines and traces of abandonment and obsolesence that abide on the landscape. This is evident on ‘Transparency Of Limestone’, over which the voice of some former human presence – a guide, or instructor to a mining facility reverberate and drift. ‘Systems Clock’, with its ticking motif, like a ghost train clacking along the railroad divides, is similarly unnerving. The centrepiece of the album, however, is the 21 minute ‘Ice Falls/Taking On Water’. It contains the full gamut of 17 Years In Ektachrome motifs – smudgy, near-abstract intimations of small towns submerged to make way for giant dams, endless, barren, scorched plains, the clank of old pulleys and the creak of lovely weather vanes, the desultory trickle of rusty brown water, sepia tints and sonic mirages of an America that once was. It refuses to decay into absolute extinction, lingering in faded photo archives and distant memories, still able to yield the occasional, silver glimmer. Archeological ambient, you might say. All the listener need do is bed down like a hobo in a slow-moving carriage across the thousands of miles of terrain covered here, enjoy the slowly shifting view in all its deceptive permanence and awesome emptiness, as the mercury level drops on the thermometer.
J. Anthony, G. Darden and R. Donne (Labradford, Spokane, ex-Aix Em Klemm) journey through simmering electronic, wide-screen vistas to seismic, swelling and undulating soundscapes. From the shifting-sand textures of “Yoke” (replete with deeply moving, melancholic cello sifting through the ether) and “Streaming Wisdom,” to the ever-so-slightly somber tones of “Dead Bird,” Homegoing is a wondrously thought-provoking, uplifting aural adventure—a technicolor travelogue of things possibly lost, possibly not.
File alongside latter-day Biosphere, Deathprod (especially both Helge Sten and Cristal’s attention to the minutest sonic detail), and the later, electronically based Zoviet France releases. Pour a glass of your finest tipple, sit back and be transported to a very special dimension. Cristal’s Homegoing has it all, and more.