Endurance: Echoic Architecture
Polar Seas Recordings

A natural fit for Brad Deschamps' Polar Seas imprint, Echoic Architecture presents an hour-long, cassette-issued set of refined ambient-drone productions by Joshua Stefane operating under the Endurance name. When not creating music or writing science-fiction, the one-time Kitchener, Ontario resident toils as a translator and researcher in Nara, Japan. Eight tracks are featured, some short and others long, the opening “Glass Towers” the longest at thirteen minutes. Though it softly shimmers in parts, the piece also smears its high-pitched, wavering tones with splashes of percussive colour and in so doing distances the material from ambient of the determinedly wallpaper-like type.

As might be expected when eight pieces are featured, contrasts emerge in dynamics and sound design from one track to another. By way of illustration, “Twilight Arcade” subsists at an almost subliminal level when its glimmering tones warble softly for eight minutes; “Automata,” on the other hand, imposes itself aggressively on the ear when showers of percussive clicks and whirrs appear alongside delicate keyboard figures. Introducing further contrast, the penultimate setting “Terminating Point” individuates itself from the others in threading an insistent rhythmic propulsion into its otherwise peaceful mise-en-scène.

Stefane's focus on architectural spaces and the urban environment extends to titles beyond “Glass Towers,” among them “Automata” and “The Entire City,” and the album material's often marked by a glassy finish that evokes the cool precision of architectural design. Though the gear he used to produce the tracks—tape players, synthesizers, pedals, and field recordings—might be par for the ambient course, the material itself is branded with a distinctive personality, despite locating itself solidly within the tradition.

August 2017