Title: Rampant Regardant
Artist: Mark Ward
Release Date: 2015 May 14
Genre: Downtempo Electronic
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Self-Release / BandCamp
Mark Ward’s Rampant Regardant might be my favorite title of the year. The name refers to the heraldic lion portrayed on the cover of this release (which was also created by Mark). As he explains: “Rampant”, refers to the posture of the beast while “regardant” means looking backwards. Which is a good way of summarizing what this release is all about.
Mark Ward’s Rampant Regardant
There is another part to the meaning of Rampant Regardant as both words have a bit more meaning and definition to them. Rampant also means: “marked by a menacing wildness, extravagance, or absence of restraint”. Regardant, which originates in Middle English is most likely related to the word “regard”, which carries the connotation of looking closely, considering.
It’s not a stretch to think that the music of Mark Ward is marked by the multitude of definitions that the phrase Rampant Regardant brings to mind. Take the opening track, Rampant Regardant, as an example. The track has a highly-sequenced base, with a forward-driving rhythm, and bouncing melodic line top. By it’s very nature, the song is borrowing heavily from the past in the sequenced synthesizer lines, while the nearly ferocious techno-style rhythm is on the attack.
On the second track, “Pulse” we have a more drone style background, with long sustained chords, against which a loose bass line and synthesize line pulses. This is an abstract, minimal work that drifts along, borrowing heavily from the classic works of artists like Steve Roach while finding other elements to bring out within the structure of the piece.
“Particles” is the longest work on this release, coming in at over eleven minutes in length. On this track Mark combines the sounds of water dripping against a sustained drone-like background. Simple bass line and driving bass drum turn what at first appears to be a minimal ambient work into a mid-tempo minimal techno piece with an infectious groove.
Closing out this release is “Waves”, a more experimental piece that takes many of the classic, looking-back elements, and finds a new way to bring the textures together to that has a different and interesting feel altogether.
My only problem with this work is something that I have struggled with before: while I think the music is excellent, I feel like the overall theme could be expanded on. Certainly, the four tracks on this release are a statement, however I find myself wondering if there was more to this statement? Could Mark have gone further with it without diluting this release? That’s something I will never know, and will stick in the back of my mind.
I wasn’t familiar with Mark Ward’s work until recently, when I was trekking through someone else’s collection on BandCamp. I’m glad I did find his work. While I do have a tendency towards liking some types of ambient works, I often find that they try to be too experimental and leave me with a detached feeling. However in Mark Ward’s Rampant Regardant we have a work that looks at many of the classic electronic music elements, and reworks them in a context that is most pleasurable to listen to.