Music

Anjou: Epithymía

Epithymía is ambient music at its grandest scale, molding a sense of sublime wonder through its six tracks.


Anjou

Epithymía

Label: Kranky
US Release Date: 2017-03-24
UK Release Date: 2017-03-24
Amazon
iTunes

As Anjou, Mark Nelson and Robert Donne make ambient music at its grandest scale. Their spacious, gentle synths evoke concepts of great magnitudes, like music that planets could dance to. Epithymía, the duo's second full-length release, molds a sense of sublime wonder through its six tracks, consisting of four ambient suites and two shorter interludes. Like much of their genre, Anjou's music does not dwell so much upon humanity as examine the vastness and incomprehensibility of the world surrounding us. It is rarely a cold record, however; Anjou are less invested in portraying an indifferent universe as they are in suggesting a sense of awe and mystery. In that respect, the album maintains its humanity throughout despite the cosmic order of its concerns.

"Culcinae" functions as a ten-minute microcosm of the album as a whole. The track can be roughly divided into three parts: it begins with soft, dewy synths suggestive of a tranquil dawn, before distantly clattering cymbals give way to a noisy, droning midsection. The cyclic creation/destruction myth becomes all the more inescapable when the track resurfaces in its final minutes with a gorgeously ascending synth-bass line, one of the album's most gratifying and stunning moments.

Whereas "Culcinae" traffics in movement and transition, the buoyant "Soucouyant" is a meditation on a more singular musical theme. The track evokes the sense of being carried atop gently undulating waves, bobbing along with the ebb and flow of the water. It is one of the lighter moments on Epithymía, managing a swiftness despite its lack of beats that brings to mind Huerco S.'s masterful For Those of You Who Have Never (and Also Those Who Have).

If most of the album is ethereal and expansive, the two interludes, "Greater Grand Crossing" and "Glamr", offer brief respites from its wide-openness. Both are dank, cavernous numbers that seem to retreat underground as they carry us along to the next spectacle. While perhaps serving as necessary punctuation for the album as a whole, they are not necessarily the most appealing pieces here. "An Empty Bank" seems at first to carry over the interludes' musty weight, beginning with several minutes of humid horns that suggest a spacious yet relatively inert piece. Gradually, however, the track swells to greater proportions. It eventually coalesces into a subtle interplay between grainy, buzzing static and gentle, somber, deeply hued synths, becoming one of the record's most affecting moments.

"Georgia", the album's closing track, is its most sinister and threatening offering. If many of the pieces here sound celestial in some way, "Georgia" is the black hole of the bunch. The electronics shudder and moan out of its abyss, gaping like a wound. Faint, unidentifiable sounds hiss from the darkness before retreating into obscurity. Even here, the synths cohere over time into a reverential awe, marveling at the beauty of this strange world even as they demonstrate its potential for danger and destruction.

Epithymía does not advance an argument for the universe as either fundamentally benevolent or sinister. Rather, it makes the unrelenting case that the beauty of the world does not hinge on either of these characteristics and that it is worthy of our wonder regardless. Listening to the album is like wandering blindfolded through a vast cave, aware of and very nearly apprehending the magnitude and significance of one's surroundings while never grasping or understanding them entirely. Anjou have crafted a transcendent and moving ambient record, invoking not just the cosmos but also the human subjective experience of the universe's strange and forbidding beauty.

8

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Chary’s 15 minutes may be a little too pop to be post-punk, a little too post-punk to be pop, but the satisfaction gained therein cuts deeper and more succinctly than many of 2017’s full-lengths.

The word “chary" may be a substitute for “cautious", but Courtship Ritual's new EP of the same title is anything but. The one-two sass attack of “Down Low" and “Blunt as Naive" makes this much clear from the start. This pair of songs serves as the perfect, attention-getting opener for Chary's nuanced five-song ride.

Keep reading... Show less
7

With The Perfect Nothing Catalog, composer Conrad Winslow explores attention and arrangement with assistance from the Cadillac Moon Ensemble and Aaron Roche.

The album cover, in a way, tells you everything. It's simple: a cardboard box with two pieces of tape: one from the box's original packing, the other haphazardly slapped on. They imply two separate states–ordering and reordering, original state and redefined context. The Perfect Nothing Catalog, the debut recording from Alaska-born, Brooklyn-based composer Conrad Winslow, invokes this very idea of objects and ideas placed, shuffled, and replaced, provoking questions of how arrangement shapes meaning.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image