Review: Philippe Lamy – Drop Diary

Like sound, water adopts an almost limitless range of forms and sparks countless connotations – it varies drastically in terms of shape, weight and volume, as well as interacting differently under each treatment and against each surface – and as such, it exists almost conceptually, almost immaterially. When taken in absolute isolation, it’s pure and unambiguous. Yet when applied to the world it inhabits, its distinction dissipates – like sound it exists in its reaction with action and substance, adopting the role of a shapeless, omnipresent lurker.

On first listen, Drop Diary could perhaps be seen as a rather loose adherence to the Mystery Sea label’s thematic basis (written as a poetic paragraph that alludes to the wonder and spirituality of the liquid state), but further inspection reveals that water it everywhere: seeping through the seams of Lamy’s desolate, low activity field recordings, screaming sibilance somewhere in the distance as a monolithic crash of waves, dripping and trickling onto objects. It’s as though the whole record was recorded on a floating platform in the ocean somewhere, leaving Lamy with not only a source of sonic instigation, but also an unavoidable, all-enveloping collaborator.

It’s a record of constant transition and complexity. Elements are always either fading in or out, with faint brushstrokes of ghostly synthesiser making way for clangs of dockyard bells, which pass incidental wooden knocks on their way through. Yet despite its fluid, ever-changing shape, Lamy does a wonderful job of retaining a mysterious and indefinable stasis – each track is an entity rather than a collage, and what could have become a disparate patchwork in the wrong hands feels like a single entity undergoing brisk, continuous evolution.