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CD Feature/ Encomiast: "Transit Bed"

img  Tobias

The opening tune is called “rains pass by”, the album goes by the name of “transit bed” and the slogan of the label is “sounds of impermanence” - if there is a simple message behind this record, then it must be that everything changes all the time. Hardly a statement to argue with, especially since Ross Hagen of Encomiast doesn’t only use his dark philosophy as a cover, but integrates it into a fully coherent musical concept.

Already the titles of “Mers de Sommeil”, his widely praised release on Belgian label Mystery Sea, pointed at a world outlook which considered inacuracy and a lack of complete predictability as given. The theme continues on his latest effort, with Hagen observing “a curious imperfection in Nature’s powers of continuity” and asking: “Doubt has a shadow?” Of course, he knows the questions is rhetorical: “transit bed” is more of a process, a development and a flow than a fixed collection of tracks. At first, the points of rupture are still obvious, with pieces merging in- and out of each other, but remaining distinctive entities of their own. Passages can still clearly be marked as Dark Ambient or characterised by their combination of style elements from different genres: Ominous drones are the backbone to scraping field recordings and metallic rhythms, while groaning and moaning structures are sandwiched between deep atmospheric vibrations and gentle melodies of gleeming harmonics. Then things gradually glide into a groove of constant evolvment, one moment already containing the information for its successor’s genesis. The eleven minute long “homespun dress” acts as a combustion point and culminates in an intangible finale of softly rolling backwards chimes. “Eclectic” and “collage” are words which immediately come to mind when trying to describe the result, but Hagen has worked hard at glueing his ideas together without revealing their original context. As a consequence, “transit bed” doesn’t work as a smart mash-up of unrelated scenes, but rather looks like a red hot lava stream with various musical objects glowing and cooking deformedly but recognisably in its stream.

Some of the sources are pure studio material, others stem from live events. Most are exclusively by Ross Hagen, while the final six minutes belong to a concert performance with Neville Harson (prepared piano stringboard), Megan Garland (flute) and Joe Skinner (gangsa). From electronic to organic, from solo excursions to group jams, from the abstract to the metaphorical, everything is in flux here and that is what makes this more than just another well-crafted Dark Ambient album.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Encomiast
Homepage: Encomiast at MySpace
Homepage: Gears of Sand

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