Title: Apocalyptic Flower Shop
Artist: Intersonic Subformation
Release Date: 2015 Feb
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Petroglyph Music
Intersonic Subformation: Apocalyptic Flower Shop is the brainchild of Richard Lisaj, the producer from Toronto, Canada most know for his dub infused reggae / world beat style of music. On this release he steps into the more abstract world of ambient music with a thirty minute EP of carefully selected beats and synths and loops.
Intersonic Subformation: Apocalyptic Flower Shop
There seems to be something of a debate when it comes to rhythm and ambient music. There are musicians that believe removing the sense of rhythm complete liberates that musician and allows them to find something new and completely different that they wouldn’t have been able to obtain otherwise. But, there is a strong case to be made for keeping the rhythm(s) and using them as an integral element of the music.
Personally, I find the work of Richard Lisaj to be a bit better because he made the choice to not eschew rhythm altogether. In fact, from the very opening of Apocalyptic Flower Shop, Richard makes a statement that the beat is a strong, fundamental element of this work. The sound of clanking, metallic objects in the background serves to set the mood of darkness that surrounds this soundscape. As the piece progresses, the flowing synthesizer lines are a light set against the darkness, and we actually find a new perspective on the light and the dark.
On ‘Orchids (Pink: Beauty – it’s neither lost nor found)’ we get a very minimal beat that is set off by a counterpoint of an electric guitar. But after building for a while, the rhythm goes away, and the guitar takes over the rhythmic role, and becomes the harmonic foundation for synthesizer melodic swirls to play against.
‘Lilies (Yellow: Timebent)’ provides something of a fake out when it comes to the direction of the piece. At first it starts with a synthesizer providing somewhat choppy lines, and an almost sonar like rhythm in the background, but these are soon displaced by a guitar line. But even that doesn’t last, and we end up swirling through differing combinations of guitar and synth and rhythm in a way that defies being succinctly described.
This whole release is about find life and light in the middle of the darkness. It’s about things that seem to be reborn, even if they were never completely lost in the first place. It’s about how they are reshaped and reformed in a world that has been completely changed around them.
Musically, there is a lot of homages throughout this work. Bits and pieces remind me of Steve Roach, Tangerine Dream, Harold Budd, Steve Reich, and many others. There is so much layering and shifting throughout this work it’s difficult to pick out everything that has been influential in producing these works. But, there’s no doubt that these influences have been honed to a vision that is uniquely Richard’s.
This is one of the times that I have really enjoyed listening to an ambient work. I feel as if I have been given the space to just experience the material, and am not being manipulated by a specific agenda. Instead I’ve been given the premise of an Apocalyptic Flower Shop, and given the space to explore and interpret what that means on my own, with a little guidance from the soundscapes. Overall, it’s quite a pleasant feeling.