Lights Dim with Gallery Six: Between Spaces

On their polished collaborative effort Between Spaces, Poland-based soundsculptor Marek Kaminski (aka Lights Dim) and Hiroshima, Japan-based composer Hidekazu Imashige (aka Gallery Six) present a luscious, forty-five suite of electroacoustic soundscaping. Par for the genre course, the duo constructs its graceful neo-ambient settings using samples, field recordings, computer-generated sounds, and acoustic instruments, most conspicuously piano and electric guitars.

Credited to Kaminski alone, “Echoes of the Ongoing Riot” establishes the recording's soothing character, with electric guitar shadings softly intoning against a dense backdrop of warm synthetic design. Whatever violent activity alluded to by the title is absent in the piece itself, which unfurls at a slow and stately pace. As the album unfolds, a narrative begins to declare itself, one perhaps having to do with the fate of the last survivors of an apocalypse (for which humanity's to blame), and in keeping with that an elegiac character permeates the album in places, as intimated by titles such as “After the End” and “All Went Quiet.”

The presence of acoustic piano and electric guitars gives the material a grounded, real-world quality that connects its sound, instrumentally speaking, to post-rock. In that regard, “Dancing Beneath the Ocean” and “We Could Finally Rest” exude a graceful, cathedral-esque character reminiscent of Hammock and Sigur Ros in their instrumental writing. Samples and field recordings figure heavily into some pieces (seaside sounds in “Long Distance Call,” for example), whereas others are purer examples of abstract electronic ambient music. In the recording's other solo piece, Kaminski ends the album memorably by adding electric piano and a blurry spoken word contribution by one Penny Lane to the chiming ambient swoon of “Voyagers.”

While Between Spaces is a largely satisfying affair, sometimes the duo's enthusiasm gets the better of them, and the listener longs for a more restrained handling of the material. It's a shame, for instance, that “Sea of Tranquillity” is overburdened with an excess of electronic noise textures, as with those stripped away it would register as a perfectly lovely piano-based setting. “Mission Time,” on the other hand, doesn't suffer in the same way, despite the preponderance of robust electronic combustion, because said elements constitute the very essence of the constantly percolating piece.

November 2013