Title: Cloud State
: Ralf Behrendt
Release Date: 10 Feb 2014
Genre: Dark Ambient
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Otium

I was trying to back away from reviewing ambient releases for a while because there are just way too many releases in this style to review all the time. ¬†And, with so many releases coming out, I find it’s a bit difficult to judge the content of each release. ¬†And, honestly, this has caused me something of a dilemma. ¬†If all releases had the evocative ambient drones of Ralf Behrendt, this wouldn’t be nearly an issue for me.

However, they don’t, and I find myself questioning if most ambient releases are really music. ¬†Especially the releases that are more drone / noise oriented. See, I’m not convinced that many of these artists are musicians. ¬†That is, I don’t think many of them could pick up a another instrument and play it with any proficiency.

Don’t take that the wrong way, that doesn’t make these works any less. ¬†They are still excellent compositions, created by artists. ¬†However, it does lead me to think that they are a different style of work that one may not classify as music per se.

So what are they? ¬†I’ve been pretty consistent in using visual imagery of painting and sculpting. ¬†I’ve talked about the tone, texture, and color of the sounds. ¬†Which I don’t even know if I am using in a sufficient way. ¬†Given my lack of formal knowledge of painting and sculpture I can only guess at how to apply the terminology to sound recordings.

So, why do I go back to reviewing ambient releases?  Well, if you listen to the pieces on Cloud State you will understand why.  The two pieces on this release are exactly what I enjoy hearing.

‘The Sun Whistler’ is a 43 minute epic long-form drone piece, comprised mainly of metallic overtones that seem to shimmer as you listen to them. ¬†They fade in and out, and build gradually along the way, as if you were listening to a sunrise.

‘Alcyon Moment’ is a 33 minute long-form piece that is slightly darker with a bit more white noise, and occasional haunting / eerie voices and animal sounds. ¬†It almost feels like being lost in a maze or caves with sounds echoing around you. ¬†While it’s scary in some ways, it’s more creepy and eerie overall. ¬†And, occasionally there are samples of other musical instruments.¬†Another way of thinking about this piece is the caves are like a dream, and the voices and instruments are fleeting fragments of memories.

And that’s why I can’t stay away from this release: the intense artistry that went into producing these pieces. Ralf Behrendt didn’t just put some drones through a mixer and call it a work. ¬†There is intense form and structure to these pieces, they are conceptual works as much as they are audio sculptures or paintings. ¬†Every note, and every sound is carefully selected and built upon.

And, that’s what draws me back to ambient works: when there is invention and creativity that captures my imagination. ¬†Evocative ambient drones grab my ears and make my brain escape into new lands. ¬†It’s one of the reasons I write reviews, and not writing about this release would have been a disservice.

(Note: I would normally have a track to listen to on this release, however with only two really long tracks, I would think it would just be better to download the release to listen to.)

Ralf Behrendt: Cloud State




Posted by George De Bruin