Diaspora is the new album from ambient act agrammeofsoma. I hadn’t heard any of his previous releases, but naming your project after a reference from Huxley’s Brave New World, and playing ambient is a good indicator that the music should be quality. With elements of shoegaze and drone with looped and processed guitars, he makes soundscapes that are calm and layered, but ever changing and interesting in a nice moody ambient release for quiet nights.
The looped ambience brings to mind William Basinski, but it’s clear that there’s much more to the sound than just textures looped over each other like in much of Basinski’s music. With guitar played over the top of the loops here there’s a very human and emotional feel to the music, bringing to mind the ghostly and melancholic atmosphere that Tim Hecker created on Ravedeath 1972 while the soft slightly shoegazey sound to the guitars remind of Lovesliescrushing’s later output. There’s a slightly rough edge to the production, it’s not crystalline, but this helps transmit the moody sound of the music rather than hindering it. The first piece leaving home has layers of soft droning textures swirling over each other in a calm and slow manner, but with a great pacing in the subtle evolution of the track. Rather than coming across as bright and relaxing, the reverb to the sound coupled with the slow motion gives a sense of detachment and melancholy to the track, while still remaining a great listen that feels like it ends too quickly as it fades into the title track after nine minutes. The title track with it’s bursts of sparkling higher pitched guitar noise over the same soft ambient textures droning on and lapping over each other like ocean waves introduces more variety to the sound while retaining the same melancholic feel while tribes builds on this further, with the sparkling bursts of sound fading out and darker bass and windy drones making for a somewhat darker sound. What sounds like brass instrumentation, but is more likely some reverbed up guitar fuckery on all roads to the mouth of the world comes in with shorts bursts, as more high pitched guitar ambience comes in to create a more upbeat if still glacially moving sound. But it’s the two longest tracks on the album, those book-ending it in the aforementioned leaving home and the closer a river runs through us all that provide the two highlights though. Two layers of plucked guitar melodies loop over each other beautifully, reminding of Wisconsin by Natural Snow Buildings in a bright and more active track that takes a different approach to ambience than the dronier pieces at the start of the album. Some bright tremolo picking comes through at the end, lifting the mood of the music and bringing the album to a great climax.
Overall Diaspora is a good album for fans of the less minimalist side of ambient and drone music with a great range of sound textures and moods across it’s length, book-ended by two fantastic longer pieces. Soma indeed.