Farthest South: Spheres & Constellations
False Industries

In dramatic contrast to the free-form free jazz-electronica fusion documented on its debut release Omens & Talismans, Farthest South's follow-up Spheres & Constellations eschews an explicit rhythm dimension altogether. Consisting of a single, long-form setting midwifed by Yair Etziony (analog synthesizers), Yair Yona (bass, effects, iPhone), Barry Berko (keyboards, guitar), and Udi Koomran (sound design) at Tel Aviv in May 2013, the release immerses the listener within a thirty-four-minute, neo-psychedelic soundworld brimming with synth washes, electrified drones, and processed vocal samples. Drawing inspiration from “a highly personal and spiritual experience shared by the band members during one long night spent in the Israeli desert” (with all that that implies), the Israeli outfit lives up to the cosmic promise of the album title in fashioning a synth-heavy opus of interstellar design.

Trippily conceived as a three-stage journey through different spheres of consciousness (external, internal, and eternal), the material can't help but evidence ties to the kosmische musik tradition and outfits like Faust and (early) Tangerine Dream when its synth and guitar washes stretch out for minutes on end. The extended running time lets the dronescape unfold at a patient and measured pace, and throughout the uninterrupted trip, a man's speaking voice, the literal content of his drone barely decipherable, and warbling synths dot the sound mass's ebbing-and-flowing surface. Any authentic inner journey will invariably confront disturbing realities, too, and Farthest South doesn't shy away from acknowledging the presence of such primal demons, as signified by the stabbing gestures of Berko's guitar playing and the nightmarish tonalities generated by Etziony's synths and Yona's bass. Expertly paced and sculpted with finesse, Spheres & Constellations turns out to be less an evocation of paradisiacal splendour and more a raw, uncensored embrace of the full spectrum of experience, both light and dark.

January 2014