Slow: Dual Box
Resting Bell

Slow is the moniker Russian composer Sergey Suokas uses for his hypnotic ambient music-making (he also records techno under the Suokas name), of which Dual Box (a so-called meditation on the “Flower of Life”) is an impressive example. The conceptual foundation for the release lies in the geometrical figure adorning the release's cover, a symmetrical design whose circles and lines are arranged into a star-like, hexagonal pattern that's evocative of geometrical figures one often sees in religious texts. Suokas connects the image and music dimensions by dedicating each of the album's six tracks to one of the circles in the figure—not that one necessarily needs to be cognizant of any of such detail in order to benefit from the recording's thirty-eight minutes of music.

“Chinatown” unfolds as a percussion meditation with bells and tinkles giving the piece a determinedly gamelan-like feel but Suokas nudges it into an entirely different realm by adding subtle electric guitar shadings for melodic spice. “Loma” lives up to the moniker name with a slow-motion blend of shuddering strings and willowy, high-pitched tones; similarly meditative, “Dreaming” pairs the arresting sound of shuddering treatments with a repeated guitar motif that proves to be a calming antidote, after which bell tinklings and long, tendril-like strokes extend for six minutes throughout the subdued “Insomnia.”

If anything, Dual Box grows progressively more beautiful and transporting as it unfolds. The penultimate piece, “Miracle,” offers a lovely exercise in ambient soundscaping in its pairing of bright harp patterns and gossamer plucks with softly lulling tones. The closing setting, “You Can't Say No To,” moves the Slow sound in the ‘dark ambient' direction one associates with Miasmah, with Suokas effecting carefully-modulated segues between overlapping tones and punctuating it all with an ominous tolling strike. Not to take anything away from the producer, but mention also might be made of Ian Hawgood's mastering contribution, which is to some degree responsible for the music's impact.

December 2009