Broken Harbour "Gramophone Transmissions" CDr
Broken Harbour is a drone ambient endeavor of Edmonton, Canada, based artist Blake Gibson, who introduces here his second full length album released during September 2011. We are first confronted with stunningly looking cover images. Yes, you can't go wrong with having Michal Karcz, a Polish photographer and image wizard, responsible for the graphic artwork duties. Michal has already worked within ambient genre with renowned artists such as Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo or David Helpling & Jon Jenkins for example. But let's investigate the sonics by this newcomer to my ambient collection.
"Drift" unfolds Broken Harbour's soundscaping exactly as indicated by its title, where deeper drifts are bridged with crackles from old vinyl records spread across the piece and with modern classical-infused piano, all wrapped by moods of longing and remembrance. A very strong intro marking a small change in the course, when moving from more darker and colossal, nearly mind-bending drones on self-titled debut "Broken Harbour". "Gramophone Transmissions" venture into slightly lighter drone and glitchy zones with the cover images precisely portraying the title and main source of this album, which features except classical vinyl records also recordings of piano, mellotron and choral. Then follow two parts of "The Ballad Of Dave Bowman", the first one is colored with slowly spiraling washes, very tranquil and mesmerizing, with angelic choir-like sounds floating in sky high realms, and supported by sensitive glitches and hisses, fragile piano and mysteriously emerging voice samples. Another deeply evocative sound sculpture!!! The second part of "The Ballad Of Dave Bowman" is mostly based around monotonously droning pipe organ sounds, slowly cascading and awaking the old, long forgotten, memories. Beautifully surrounding and tranquilizing the listener's mind!!! "Titan" attracts with the synergy between various, aurally effective glitches and hisses with silent passages, peaceful washes and hints of hidden drama, all glimmeringly interweaving and evoking more melancholic, nearly ethereal feelings. The unmeasurable and unmistakable beauty of "The River Of Appearance" is gracefully hovering above. Well done, Blake, certainly one of my fave pieces on this journey!!! The next composition "Dark Clouds Approaching From The West", as its title suggests, is invaded by heavier and darker drone walls, strengthened by ghostly sounding choirs, masterfully painting images of cloudy seamless sunset panoramas. "Maelstrom (The Descent)" remains in the darker, nocturnal terrains, quite dramatic and adventurous, but also much more frightening with cryptic voices emerging here and there. This is a truly unsettling, transcendental sonic ride, clocking to 16 and half minutes. The closing "Unforeseen Consequences" is fortunately more relieving with its static, but slowly rising drone before it peacefully fades away into silence.
"Gramophone Transmissions" are skillfully crafted, and even if self-released as a CDr edition only, with strong attention paid to its visual part. Congratulations to Broken Harbour!!! I will keep my eyes and ears wide-open, Blake!!! Highly recommended for all traversers hanging on the edges of ambient and dark ambient genres!!! And get your headphones ready...
Richard Gürtler (Jun 03, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)
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