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.
Mastered by Jannick Schou. Limited to 500 copies on replicated CD (NOT CDR!) in numbered 6 panel digipak with full colour artwork designed by Justin Wright himself. First 100 orders come with bonus cassette of outtakes in hand stamped packaging.
Haruki is the pseudonym of composer/sonic artist Boris Snauwaert from Ghent, Belgium, who creates sonic environments through the precise, meditated amalgamation of a diverse variety of sounds, both musical and non-musical. In any given track Haruki combines any or all sound sources; field recordings, acoustic instruments, acoustic noises, found samples, sampled instruments and so on.
The compilation features 12 tracks from some of the globe’s most talented sound-designers. It is a subtly rewarding headphone listen from start to finish; curated and ordered to purposefully induce a state of sleep. Starting off minimally, gradually gathering tone and atmosphere, the experience goes on without ever boiling over or reaching a crescendo. Parts of the album are light and restful whereas traces of it tread darker territory. All in all, the imagery that the album conjurs sits perfectly as a soundtrack to the dreams one experiences during a nights sleep.