microphones in the trees: son ash ~ easy listening for the hearing impaired

Friday, November 17, 2017

son ash ~ easy listening for the hearing impaired

son ash ~ easy listening for the hearing impaired (År & Dag, 2017)

«'Easy Listening For The Hearing Impaired' is a collection of timbral, rhythmical and structural studio experiments for analogue synthesizers, sequencers and reel tape. Part of the material stems from free improvisation, while other parts are composed from more strict and conformational principles. The album is concerned with the idea of beginning and becoming, and an increasing expanse is embedded in the progression of the album, that gradually unfolds its ramifications over time». År & Dag

After years of dedication to ambient music it can be hard to focus on weirdness and playfulness of modern electronic music. Surely it's not that hard in general, your mind just gets so comfortable with the idea of music without unexpectable turns and sharp angles that it becomes inseparable from daily routine. Even without calling it consumerism or escaping, it's enough already to say that one can easily become 'hearing impaired' to any other kind of music. With this in mind I finished my first listening to this record, staring to the ceiling, completely lost and totally inspired. Taken first as the controversial eye-catcher, the name of this album unfolded as a little epiphany – even having the all music of the world before us, we usually select just few styles for personal comfort remaining deaf to anything else. Voluntary deafness, John Cage's archenemy. Of course, there is contrariety to it, hunger to complexity and ingenuity, which drives so-called avantgarde to limits of reason. But beyond those extremes lays the vastness of music, which can be virtually anything for you. 

Son Ash brings a lot to this table, playing and experimenting, making fun of cliches. Sometimes it gets so calm and minimal that it can be mistaken for some Guenter Schlienz' new work, but just few moments later it turns your calmness into laughter, as it was saying 'haha, got you!' – yet within the bounds of decency. I doubt Andreas Pallisgaard (Son Ash mastermind) does it on purpose, at least I want it to be that way because it creates a picture of some kind of futuristic ambient music in my head – it still exists in terms of Satie & Eno, but already corrupted by this unavoidable post-internet vibe, when unexpected turns are not glitches of the system but are result of changed perception of the world, conscious switches. Mind changing it's focus same way as 20 years ago people changed TV channels during sleepless night, but with awareness why and what for. As we change interiors while drifting through the city to our homes. If classic ambient was pastoral in many ways and had its evil twin 'dark ambient', this new ambient cannot be named that easily. It's not dystopian or critical. It's not even weird or cynical. It's like the life itself – just changing. Just different for every one. But still it has to say something about all of us in common. Yes, this is easy listening, after all, but only if you forgot how to listen. 

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