relapxych.0: City Nightlights
Sound designer, engineer, and Ghost Sounds label head Anders Peterson issues material under a plethora of names—Skyscaper, Unknown Caller, Last Industrial Estate, and Elementaural Research Project among them—but it's the ‘reality altering psychoacoustics' (by his own description) he produces under the relapxych.0 guise and specifically the sounds captured on the fifty-minute City Nightlights that's of immediate concern. As relapxych.0, Peterson blends field recordings, acoustic and synthetic instruments, and voice into shimmering, meticulously sculpted soundscapes. In shaping this recording, Peterson collected field recordings from areas around Stockholm's Central Station, Stadhuskajen, Riddarholmen, and Tegelbacken, as well as abandoned areas outside the Central Station complex.
Though the title track is generally a droning mass of shimmering textures, deeply buried traces of techno nevertheless emerge, if only for a few fleeting moments. Even when that doesn't occur, an ominous bass throb establishes some modest semblance of rhythm throughout, an element that helps ground the constant swirl of processed industrial materials and billowing washes that also appears. That techno dimension—dub-techno, more like it—becomes more explicit when lashes of hi-hats and the booming thud of a bass drum take center stage during “Landmark II,” while the dub feel carries over into “City Nightlights III” in the form of a slow bass line that pulsates deeply within the surface textures. At such moments, the relapxych.0 sound reveals affinities with the Echospace-related projects associated with Stephen Hitchell, an affinity bolstered even more strongly when “City Nightlights (Beat Reduced)” ends the album with thirteen minutes of crystalline ambient. Interestingly, only two of the album's pieces position field recordings at the forefront as the primary focal point: “City Nightlights II” and “Interdimensional,” wherein traffic sounds and hydraulic noises figure prominently.
Presented as six separately indexed pieces, the recording unfolds uninterruptedly with each setting bleeding into the next. It's a smart move on Peterson's part as it helps make the tracks, each of them possessing some degree of differentiating character, feel connected. But what recommends City Nightlights most is the way in which Peterson transmutes the myriad source materials into musically satisfying settings where a careful balance is achieved between the conventional musical elements and the ‘non-musical' textures.