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The tremulous quality to Eivind Aarset‘s electronics on “Magnetosphere” sets a tone that the other Foodies respond to, making it Mercurial Balm‘s most ethereal track. Aarset’s own album, Dream Logic, works a similar vibe on a bigger canvas.
Here, it’s impossible to distinguish Aarset’s playing on guitars, bass guitar, electronics, percussion, samples and programming from Jan Bang’s on samples, dictaphone and programming.
The first of three variations on the same theme, “Close (for Comfort)” is a softly radiant bloom of multi-tracked sound. Close listening is rewarded with a wealth of detail. You can hear, for instance, the skin-on-string of finger lifts and light taps; I assume the piano or string tones were also produced on guitar, and that the music box kalimba is the result of processing; but the deep resonance of a gently thrummed electric bass and the metallic, tickly swirl of a brushed cymbal are unmistakeable.
There’s a less ambiguous music box quality to the ending of “Jukai (sea of Trees)”, a track that begins with a marimba pulse subsumed in warm, gaseous audio. Likewise, “Black Silence” is barely-there, an unsettling Thomas Köner-esque ambience. “Surrender” begins as little more than a weak pulse. But, quiet as it often is, Dream Logic doesn’t play purely as an ambient album. As it develops, the latter track assumes a weird, out-of-focus soft-rock temper.
“Homage to Greene” has a lovely, serene melody that’s characterised by limpid, open string guitar playing – reminiscent, obliquely, of Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” – and a subtle bass line provides a thread through gentle electronic reverberations and ghost traces of what might, once, have been bass clarinet.
The instrumental work of David Sylvian bears closer comparison. Witness the bucolic, sweetly melodic song “The Whispering Forest”, where log drum samples are worked into otherworldly percussive vibrations. And note how apposite the track titles are. Take “The Beauty of Decay”, for instance: The album’s last track, it comprises little more than bass emanations from a deep fug of decayed sound, dimly cut by the plaintive sound of a horn – perhaps a shofar?