B-Sanders: B-Electric

Sonmi451: Spectrum

Bernard Zwijzen's fifth Sonmi451 full-length for U-cover provides a perfect soundtrack for easing into the day. Spectrum, which obviously uses the colours of the rainbow as a springboard, is deep ambient in the best sense of the word: immersive, richly detailed, tranquil, multi-layered—meditative music that rewards one's attention. “Red” establishes the recording's mood with fourteen minutes of slow-motion gusts of wind and surges of waves, all of it punctuated by cross-currents of glistening organ tones and underpinned by a softly shimmering industrial drone and pebbles of noise. The soothing “Orange” is followed by the even more becalmed “Yellow.” The latter's blurry electric piano tones tinkle so gently, the material could be packaged as a sleeping aid by a pharmaceutical company. There's forward movement, of course, but the music's floating character is closer to suspended animation. In “Green,” silvery slivers flutter across near-static fields of granular hiss and electric piano meander, while “Blue” could be described as the sound of machines sleeping and softly exhaling as they do so. “Violet” adopts a slightly more acoustic focus in spreading acoustic piano tinkles, voice murmurs, and string plucks over its synthetic atmospheres. All told, it's a fifty-five minute sampling of ambient artistry at its finest.

Bram Sanders opts for a more rhythm-based approach on his debut B-Sanders release B-Electric (part of U-cover's Limited on 155 series). Though Detroit techno and Murcof are cited as influences, the Belgium producer's sound is hardly techno of the frenzied club kind but one might be more inclined to label ambient-techno, with the greater emphasis on the atmospheric side of things. A restrained degree of propulsion animates the opener “Me Song,” just enough to give the material a momentum foreign to ambient music like Sonmi451's. “22:22” starts out in clicks'n'cuts territory—whirrs and clicks blending into a lurching snd-styled rhythm—before building dramatically into a more expansive setting of deep electronica. There are moments, however, when B-Electric does work up a hefty amount of steam. “I Found Meno” stokes intense drive in a minimal pulse that's equal parts funk and house, despite being stripped to its skeletal essence. Eleven alluring minutes of subtly swinging house drive, “Lost Luggage” pulsates with a futuristic synthetic sheen that's got Detroit written all over it, while “Last Call For Detroit,” not surprisingly, exudes an uptempo and breezy spirit. Sanders' well-crafted collection also shows care in its sequencing as it gradually cools down as it moves towards its end: cello strokes first darken the astral flutterings that ricochet through “Cellism,” after which “Five Minutes Remaining” returns the album to its ambient beginnings for a serenading outro (the effect somewhat undercut by the inclusion of an epic ambient remix of “22:22” by Ontayso).

May 2010