Olan Mill – Pine (CD)
Ambient sounds travel around us. They can go unnoticed and form part of the deluge of noise that exists in our atmosphere…
They can also be considered and appreciated as something integral to the makeup of our auditory senses. Take the trickling of a stream, the humming of a bird or, in the context of this review, the echoes of music emanating from a church, and with a little analysis one can appreciate the presence of these reverberations.
Listening to “Pine,” the second release from record label Serein, and the debut recording from Olan Mill, it is clear the group’s two collaborators are appreciators of these sounds. For while this compact, concise group of recordings are created from a palette of instruments and not from field recordings so usually associated with ambient music, such is the dream like, slow motion quality of the sounds at work that one could easily forget they are listening to a record, as the notes seamlessly form part of their natural surroundings.
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Perhaps it is the fact that this album was created within a small church that the music created here takes on this guise. Using piano, violin, pipe organ and guitar, the two players Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko pool this small collection of instruments and expand the sound significantly dosing the instruments with long, drawn out reverbs. Such is the grand nature of the resulting music, that the ten instrumental pieces evoke thoughts of huge expanses be it underwater, open valleys or starry night skies.
The opening track, “Spare Smoke Template” builds slowly from organ and strings. The sounds are so natural sounding that they feel like they are travelling through the air rather than a speaker box. Title track “Pine,” which begins as a minimalist piano track, is eventually joined by rich, warm and finely bowed strings. It is a short, but romantic piece and thanks to the production processing, the layered sounds give the track a grander feel to what might have been expected from the offset. The same is true on tracks like “The Prescribed Individual” and “Flume” both of which develop significantly over the course of their play.
This is a captivating debut. The album is short at only 35 minutes, but the clever manipulation of the instruments by the musicians makes it feel a great deal bolder than the track durations would suggest. A duo to keep a look out for, Olan Mill, as aptly summarised by their track “An Obedient Ear,” use their well-trained senses to create music befitting of the aura of the natural environment.