Severence: Hidden Ceilings

Born in 1977, Elliot Denmark grew up in East London before moving to Murcia, Spain twelve years ago where he now resides and, despite possessing no formal musical education or musical training, creates dub-influenced electronic soundpaintings under the Severence name. Though Denmark has previously released music on BineMusic, Area 51, and Shoreless Recordings, Hidden Ceilings is his debut Severence album. Nine hypnotic and immersive dubscapes (one track even titled “Immerse”) are featured on the seventy-two-minute release, with three of them tipping past the ten-minute mark.

Like fireflies flickering against a dark night sky, illuminated organ tones meander through an enveloping forcefield of dense windswirls during the opener “Portus,” while elsewhere shuddering starbursts of synthetic textures convulse like overlapping waves. With its billowing trails of metal-flaked chords, a track such as “Reflection” argues that the Severence sound is about sound design above all else, while the aptly named “Adrift” unfolds in a series of undulating motions in a way that can't help but invoke Deepchord, Basic Channel, and Chain Reaction as reference points.

If there's one thing that helps distinguish Denmark's approach from others, it's that a typical track's rhythm base is less defined by an explicit beat and more by the slow surging of soundwaves (though there are exceptions, such as “Fuse,” whose writhings are animated by simple kick drum pulses, and “Modulate,” which is powered by a slow-motion funk groove, of all things). Aside from the fact that the album's overlong and would be better had it been shaved down to, say, fifty minutes, the other obvious knock against the Severence sound is that it's undeniably derivative; on the plus side, there's no disputing the fact that Denmark executes the album's material effectively.

October 2013