Depths of Human Psyche

Mathias Grassow has been going at it for quite some time. His interest and love with the synthesizer has lead him to the music that was coined by the legendary artist Brian Eno. Grassow's form of ambient isn't exclusive, in fact it's used been used heavily in electronic ambience as well, that is his use of overtones that drawn out dark, never-ending cycle of drones that asphyxiate the ears as if they were breathing themselves.

Some may peg the my statement in the summary I made for Grassow's latest work as a bit over the top. Truthfully it really isn't. Grassow has said on many occasions that his work as an ambient or an experimental artist is too delve within the human psyche. More specifically he believes the drawn out drones, overtones, and one key sequences are essentially what the mind wants to hear, a deep connection if you will. I can't say I disagree; to be honest ambient music itself is relaxing if not that, it surely grasps the mind within its construct. As ambiguous, overly complex, or even extremely simple as those constructs may be within the music it still shows us that the ambient genre has a strong connection within us. The similarities within nature and its ambience are not seen by accident within ambient music itself. Both are fairly repetitious if not clear what is being heard in its structure. Take for instance a jungle - each animal, plant, every living thing and its surrounding natural atmosphere have their own unique voices. And when you create conflict with those things such as gusty winds and trees they create an entirely different sequence of noises. Ambient music could be said to do the same, taking small sequences of noises and instrumentation and purposely conflicting them with one another.

Grassow's work doesn't quite take that same path as my underdeveloped comparison goes, but he does take huge amounts of it within his music. There is no doubting that Grassow's work relies heavily on the synthesizer and the keys of a keyboard, evoking such troublesome and dark moods only felt within truly traumatic events. And as "Samsara" may go strong with the same sequence of drone throughout its 20 minute span the generally lightly tapped piano keys and slight sounds of banging noises within its background are the most eerie, if not a bit haunting. That is something Mathias Grassow has tried to develop for quite some time - a muddled and highly induced tense moments within its not-so dynamic progression.

I seem to be caught in a hypocritical cycle within this review, every paragraph seems to lead to a point, but not entirely of what you were expecting. As I said, Grassow's work (the majority) involves shady and dim atmosphere that is covered with huge amounts of drone. While Calibration may seem to be take that same path on "Samsara", yet it is trumped by its next track "Emoticon, Pt. I". The drones aren't asphyxiating or tension driven, but serene and pleasant. Garnering feelings of natural chirping birds and a soundscape that only lasts a few short minutes. The short breaks within the manipulative and dark drones of the long tracks are sufficiently balanced with a more calming, tranquil, and less driven by the buzz of the music then it's background. Calibration moves away from its tone set in the first 20 minutes to an entirely different mood within the next 20. His signature synthesizer is ever buzzing in the forefront, but not as driving as it was before. The general regression from the state of "Samsara" is fantastic, albeit surprising. "From Where I Come" may drift into the shadow abyss with its last minutes of life it still does capture the entire song in those moments. The cycle of heavier moods with lighter moods is ever present within "Emoticon, Pt. II", a continuance with the last hints of "From Where I Come". This cycle intertwines within itself causing conflicting ideologies of man-made sounds to the clear noises of nature, from the dark moments verse the light moments, Grassow is building a road that is split in the middle and it generally works. If "Samsara" is set to make the atmosphere of the album then the 5th track "Shunyata" puts the cycle back to square one. A never-ending circle of movements, whether they be glorious and calming to menacing and overly drenched in overtones, Calibration seeks the extremes to the middle ground. "Shunyata's" cycle may less drawn out then the beginning of the album, but it surely shows what Grassow is trying to accomplish. The constant and spaced chirps in the background, the drone that swamps the track, and the acoustic strums, and the slowly, gradual climb of hand drumming that bring reluctance within your ears.

Grade: B-
Download: V0 (VBR)


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