Alexander Rishaug: Shadow Of Events

A long time in the making, Shadow Of Events is the third album by Oslo, Norway-based sound artist Alexander Rishaug, whose previous work Possible Landscape was issued on Asphodel all the way back in 2004. The new material, which Rishaug recorded over a five-year period, doesn't radically depart from the style of the earlier work though hints at more refinement overall. The album sits comfortably within the ambient soundscaping genre, and without too much effort one detects faint echoes of Oval, Stephan Mathieu, Microstoria, and related artists in Rishaug's material. He's used what are at this stage standard materials as sound sources—field recordings, electric and acoustic piano, guitar, and radio, with all of it shaped via computer—but the result is appealing nonetheless, as Rishaug produces a warm and understated brand of ambient music-making that has much to recommend it.

In “H_Icon,” murmuring pianos gradually build into a blurry cloud formation until they're joined by additional layers, this time of insect-like chirps and the babbling of a keyboard brook. In this longest of the album's tracks, layers of contrasting sounds slowly supplant others, and the whole registers as an episodic, heavily atmospheric, and patiently unfolding soundscape. As tonal washes and organ tones drift across a granular base of crackle and hiss, one could easily imagine “Drawing A Day” issued as a 12k release, so delicate is the piece an exercise in textural soundsculpting. “Garden Memories” is as lovely, with in this case Rishaug creating a reverie of gentle and nostalgic character from Rhodes sprinkles and gaseous textures. A slightly darker ambiance seeps into both “Things That Disappear,” which is otherwise as melancholy and haunting as a Bvdub production, and “Magic Fingers,” which closes the release with opaque whirlpools of shuddering haze and muffled clatter. Shadow Of Events admittedly won't win any awards for originality yet certainly stakes its place within the ambient soundscaping tradition respectably enough. Enhancing the project's appeal is its retiring nature (it is, after all, titled Shadow Of Events) and the absence of bloat in its economical forty-three-minute running time.

June 2011