The deep sea adventures of a whale and a synth machine.
Currently, in the UK, we’ve just had our lowest recorded temperatures since 1995 and have had a week of snow flurries and icy mornings. The weather could not be a better atmosphere to experience the wind and water infused synths of ‘The Blue of Distance’. Elori Saxl’s highly experimental synth noise and vibration album mixes nature and synth together as one vibration in a hypnotic way. I felt like I was swimming as an underwater whale for most of it.
The first thing to mention here is that Elori Saxl is focussed on hypnotic rhythms and swooshes. The ten-minute track ‘Blue’ is a magical example of this. A throbbing tape whirl chews and boundlessly pulsates whilst a chamber string arrangement rides in on whaleback giving the bass throb a high end of serenity. Always melodic, the track really pulls you in both meditatively and emotionally. The track blends into a more symphonic grace over time too in a carefully constructed way. It really is a beautiful introduction to this cool and inviting world. Preluding the track and opening the album ‘Before Blue’ is a fast head rush of synths smashing down like a wave as if we are being washed away.
Woodwind and water sounds feature heavily with ‘Wave I’ and ‘Wave II’ that follow. The oboe always feels slightly lonely and subdued and having it curiously slink over trickling water stick pebbles and water droplets is a great collaboration. With ‘Wave II’, there is a rhythmic percussive pulse of synths like a blood pumping whoosh. Suddenly water feels mechanics and ice crackles permeate the speakers. Elori Saxl wrote half the album on a frozen Lake Superior and you can tell. As the chamber orchestra takes centre stage alongside field recordings of water and forest floor sounds, the albums second centrepiece takes shape. The near twelve-minute ‘Memory of Blue’ harks back to the rhythmics and melodies of ‘Blue’ earlier but now they are soggy; saturated in water and flowing out with ripples of soft distortion around our ears. It is a very clever and literal take on hazy memories, geology and nature all rolled into one meditative flow.
After this haze comes the relative clarity of ‘Wave III’ where synths take a backseat to the chamber orchestras clarity. The crystalline wind instruments gently reflect on the main chords before closing track ‘The Blue of Distance’ takes that same chord structure and distances it from your ears. The slower, breathier playing style is faded and softer. Added tape effects and droning synths underscore the chamber orchestra and it feels like the music is swimming away into the blue from you as water streams bubble away in the background.
The closest thing I’ve come to a sounds like for Elori Saxl’s album is perhaps Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s ‘The Mosaic of Transformation’ – but if you crossed it with Blue Planet. It is a really curious album that is graceful, elegant, human and alien all at once. Strangely affecting too. Elori has made a leftfield gem here and it took me by surprise. Headphones recommended too – so you can hear all the different water effects.
Recommended track: Blue
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