2009 Ten Favourite Labels
Simon Scott's Navigare
Traxx's 10 Chicago Tracks

Matt Bartram
Bell Horses
Broadcast & Focus Group
Angus Carlyle
Ytre Rymden Dansskola
Do Make Say Think
Isnaj Dui
Shane Fahey
Jan Garbarek Group
Lisa Germano
Rachel Grimes
Christopher Jion
P Jørgensen
Leyland Kirby
Elisa Luu
Mountain Ocean Sun
Marcello Napoletano
Andy Nice
Rameses III
Sankt Otten
Danny Saul
Simon Scott
Sleep Whale
Susanna & Magical Orch.
Claude VonStroke

Compilations / Mixes
Favourite Places 2
Music For Mathematics
Snuggle & Slap
Sander Kleinenberg 2

DJ Bone
DJ Nasty
Duque and Baxter
Ghenacia & Djebali
Kez YM
King Roc
Vadim Lankov
Lavender Ticklesoft
Lo-Fi Soundsystem
Niko Marks
Mark Templeton

Simon Scott: Navigare

Navigare may be Simon Scott's debut solo release on the Miasmah label, but he's anything but a newcomer. Though a major claim to fame is his membership in Slowdive (his drumming can be heard on 1991's Just for a Day and 1993's Souvlaki), he's hardly been idle in the years following that period: Scott has issued material under the name Televise, currently manages the Kesh label, is a member in Seavault (with Isan's Antony Ryan), performs as second guitarist alongside Rafael Anton Irisarri in The Sight Below, and has collaborated with Brian Eno, Machinefabriek, Emmanuele Errante, and Jasper TX, among others. In short, the man brings to the Miasmah release loads of experience, all of of which gets put to good use on the forty-eight-minute collection.

A Miasmah release to the core, the album finds Scott sculpting electro-acoustic settings of symphonic grandeur that occasionally reveal ties to shoegaze but more often than not show him pushing beyond any one genre into a realm of encompassing stylistic design. Monumental masses of sound course through tracks that are often so deep and consuming no single instrument is able to impose an indentifiable character upon them, despite the fact that Scott supposedly built the tracks using guitars, drums, bass, sitar, violin, cello, and flute, and augmented them with field recordings. The album's epic tone is immediately established when “Introduction of Cambridge” rolls out sheets of ethereal sound so immense they'll leave you swooning. Interestingly, while ghostly melodies, tones, and angelic choirs seem to emerge from the center of the mass during the track's first half, the second finds drums, bass, and guitars emerging from the center and coming into clear focus. “Derelict Days” likewise begins with an oceanic blur but gradually allows conventional drum sounds to rise to the surface, even if they still must fight to be heard amidst the controlled roar. In “The ACC,” drums again assume a central presence (though they're slowly drawn into the murky undertow), as do guitars, which for once can be heard chiming audibly against the rippling cloud mass and blaring horn motif (listen closely and you might even catch a glimpse of Martha Rae Scott's vocal wail).

“Flood Inn” starts out in classic shoegaze manner with a six-string wall-of-sound but then periodically opens its floodgates to let tidal waves of metallic ripple and roar to pour forth. In isolated moments, the track's roar even rivals the pummeling heft of Techno Animal's Re-entry, as does the volcanic crush of the later “Ashma.” The piece that most clearly dovetails with Miasmah's dark ambient style is “The Old Jug and Drum,” a wailing funereal dirge of harrowing character that includes additional treatments by Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX); “Spring Stars,” Scott's collaboration with Irisarri, is exultant and uplifting by comparison. Listeners familiar with Scott's Televise material probably will hear Navigare as both a logical progression and a bold plunge into the Miasmah soundscaping universe. Regardless, the release should be regarded as another stellar addition to the label's catalogue.

November 2009