Immersion - Sleepless

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2018-06-15
Immersion - Sleepless
Immersion - Sleepless

Lights taper widely and randomly like nerve endings on the cover of Immersion’s new album, Sleepless. Colin Newman (of Wire) and Minimal Compact’s Malka Spigel utilise ambient electronics to sense different stimuli in the world around us. So much of this widescreen style of music can be lost in vague and uninteresting sound, doing little more than lulling us into a dreamy stupor. Sleepless, however, is properly transportative, and without excessive ticks, or aberrant side journeys.

It’s a revelation. I didn’t know Colin Newman and Malka Spigel had recorded three albums together in the 1990s as Immersion. In fact the Swim ~ label has been pushing projects such as Immersion and Githead for some time now. Understated neo-minimalist electronic music is how Swim ~’s mandate was initially characterised, however the projects became more guitar-based with Githead as I understand the history.  On Sleepless the predominant emotional sense is agitation, thus providing context to the title, and this differentiates this project to more ornery attempts at conventional ambient electronica. For instance on ‘Hovertron’ the bass kicks in audaciously, in similar fashion to Jah Wobble’s hyperactive rhythms, the instrument placed very much at centre stage against a mercurial shift of electronic sound . While the music pushes forward with krautrock momentum, it’s not a groovy vibe. Rather more disquieting. By contrast ‘The Humming Sea’, while having an immediate, jazz oriented sound is more homogenous, more layered, and lending itself more to positive imaginings.  

The underhanded vice of Sleepless however is to lay a groundwork of calmness with tracks such as ‘Microclimate’ and evolve across the 50 minutes to various states of unrest. By the time you’ve reached ‘Seeing is Believing’ you’re feeling distemper. Sounds that were genial at the surface, suddenly became difficult to unravel. 

Sleepless inculcates, and like insomnia it’s not easily explained.

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