Pascal Savy: The Silent Watcher

The Silent Watcher presents seven heavily textured, atmospheric settings by electronic music composer Pascal Savy. For his first full-length album, the London, UK-based producer worked with field recordings of workshop tools, clock devices, rusty bicycle wheels, children's voices, and so forth (in their unaltered and processed forms) to create miniature sound narratives of evocative character. Using granular synthesis techniques, Savy manipulates the source materials so that a hint of their originating identity sometimes remains but also to such a degree that the materials assume an abstract and open-ended character—much like an image that's so out-of-focus only glimmers of its outlines remain. Fragments of keyboard melodies, for example, ripple across whispering drones in “Deconstructing Clues” while a human's distant cry intermittently surfaces. A percolating beat pattern quietly pulsates throughout “Asleep” as if to mimic sleep's regulated brain activity, while minimal piano notes punctuate wavering swirls of choral-like drift. Though there's a restless pitter-patter of warm keyboard tones, echoing ripples, and other noises cascading across the smooth surfaces of “Oblique,” the piece largely sticks close to its evenly modulated core. A darker undercurrent threading through “Muon” lends it a subtly menacing ambiance, an impression bolstered by the sounds of nocturnal creatures chattering amidst the percussive clatter and churn of industrial machinery. Savy's pieces are nominally ambient, though not so much that they blend into the background like so much wallpaper. Though there are melodic elements, he renders their outlines fuzzy too so that the melodies are broken up, muffled, and muted, as if heard through a semi-transparent scrim. The resultant pieces are artful and nuanced, not to mention admirably understated—so much so, in fact, that close listening is needed for the high quality of the material to be fully appreciated.

May 2010