Moss Garden: Understanding Holy Ghosts

A number of things to know upfront about Moss Garden: first, the project's name derives from the meditative track included on the second side of Bowie's Heroes album; secondly, the group, formed in October of 2012, features two members, Lee Anthony Norris (aka Metamatics, Norken, Nacht Plank) and Dimitar Dodovski (a Macedonian techno producer); and, thirdly, its debut album appears on Kaico, a sub-label of the admired Spekk imprint, and was mastered by Chihei Hatakeyama.

In keeping with the group name, the music featured on the forty-eight-minute album—five long moodscapes ranging from seven to thirteen minutes—is ambient of a particularly warm, peaceful, and organic type. Highly textured and humid, the material unfolds like mists of gauzy colours wafting gracefully through dense undergrowths. In the opening “No Prayers for the Mosquito,” insistent rhythms are smothered in swirls dotted with crackle and dust until the elements eventually coalesce into a state of symphonic serenity. “Overlooking Oceans” breathes ever-so-gently, the gentle ebb and flow of its waves augmented by quiet synthesizer patterns and half-melodies. Some subtle hint of Entain-styled dub-techno surfaces in the metallic rumblings heard during “Structures of Patience,” though nothing so regulated as a formal 4/4 rhythm declares itself over the course of its ten-minute run.

Norris and Dodovski focus on two things above all else: on establishing a mood of soothing serenity and encouraging a contemplative state in the listener (nowhere more so than during the luscious closer “The Fabric of Sentinel”), and on using a rich, multi-layered palette of synthetic and natural sounds to do so. No instruments are listed, but the aural evidence suggests a wide range of synthetic and acoustic source materials and advanced sound manipulation and processing techniques were involved in the production. Moss Garden doesn't re-write the ambient rulebook on the release but nevertheless offers ambient devotees a thoroughly appealing and subtly exotic variation on the genre theme.

March 2013