Artist: Ari Porki
Release Date: 2015 Feb 01
License: CC BY-ND
Ari Porki: Waterway, is a compilation of water-themed ambient pieces and soundscapes recorded from 2009 to 2014, with three tracks produced exclusively for this release. It’s one of the more interesting themes to use for a collection of pieces, but it works out very well — after all, there is an entirely foreign world just beneath the surface of the waves, an outer space inside our very own Earth.
Ari Porki: Waterway
This album is a great of example of why artists often make the leading track one of the strongest pieces on the whole record: “Lake Roland” begins with a heavy, bassy drone and bird sounds blended and reverberating around distant chimes. A lead synth that is crafted perfectly as to not be intrusive, merely present, soars over the rest in a calm manner, moving through a simple melody. As the track progresses, things get a bit more water-based; speech samples of flowing shoreline currents and a bit more white noise finish it off. “Courtship” and “Spirit of Ice Lantern” sound to me as if they were crafted in a pair. The former is a touch warmer, but the production between the two remains shimmering, sparkling clean.
The next three tracks had my jaw nearly magnetized to the floor. “Dark Horizon” makes the listener physically feel the weight of an Eastern horizon at dusk, the great wall of navy blue washing over as if underneath perpetual ocean waves. “Bleak Rover” isn’t very strong, but does a good job sounding decently bleak and detached. “Backdrops” is full of samples of dripping water and throbbing drones, accented by upward-swirling synths. What really does it for me on this track is the speech samples and the slow ascent into a hazy, distorted seascape. All the while, the low end remains as satisfying as ever: imagine what the equivalent of Niagara Falls being thrown over your shoulders.
The second half of the album is where, unfortunately, some of the pieces falter. “Tide” is an otherwise-uneventful collection of looping, echoing sine waves and quieter samples of the drips found in “Backdrops”, while “Rowlock” seems to use only one instrument (various chime samples), just stretched out to drone or compressed to pluck as the piece dictates.
The final four tracks are a bit of a mixed bag: “Above The Rainy Clouds” is meticulously produced and sounds incredible, but seems to be lacking melody, with the exception of the final two minutes or so. “Devotion” absolutely blows me away: the intricate architecture of samples and synths creates a wonderful dynamic sensation of lurching forward and fading away, only to come back forward again. The frenetic plucks happening on the right channel keep the pace from becoming something that would put the listener to sleep, instead becoming something to focus on for a brief moment before the drone seems new again. “Stratum”, while as well-produced as any other track here, is really nothing to write home about. The high-pitched synth with a slow-yet-fixed melody becomes more of an annoyance than anything else. “Low Pressure” follows a similar formula to “Backdrops”, though with a focus more on the air than the water, and brings with it a calming finality to the work as a whole.
With “Waterway”, Ari Porki brings his water-related compositions together and allows the pieces to stand out on their own as well as interact with each other to create a new sort of work from mostly-old parts, one that flows along with the grace and serenity of a meandering river through the forest, eventually finding its way to some desolate shore. Devoid of humanity (with the exception of the rare adventurer, represented through occasional speech) the songs find their own meanings in a setting that almost can’t be defined by mere words.