21 tracks, 43 minutes. This breed of sound design usually thrives within much longer durations. When drones are permitted to flower over the course of a quarter-hour, evolving at a pace too gradual to perceive moment-by-moment, they often emulate some of the more elegant and cyclical progressions of nature: incremental plant growth, the pathway of the sun across the sky. Yet when the aesthetic of abstract sound design is condensed into the space of one or two minutes, my relationship with the music is drastically different. I’m ushered into chambers of transience, witnessing sounds bloom and melt at speed, feeling my space respire between states of confinement and expansion. By the time I’ve acclimatised to my surroundings – adjusting my feet to accommodate the synth chords that tilt beneath me, recalibrating my eyes to handle the sudden blazes of distorted guitar that fire overhead – the music is gone. I’m forever scrambling to keep up, helplessly habituating to my impermanent climate, trying to fathom the contours of my location before I black out and wake up somewhere else.
Yet there’s a sense of urgency from the side of the composer too, as if Hansen is challenging himself to forge a connection with me as quickly as possible. Sounds leap out at me from the edges, shunning ambient music’s gradual introductions in favour of plunge pool-esque jolts of environmental shift. He employs earthly and tactile textures as a means of pulling me in: visceral scrapes of violin, rumbles of imminent earthquake, blizzards of disembodied space rock. Birdsong slides upon a slope of dissonant drone (“Weightless”), before synth pads mimic the harsh blur of traffic noise for a fleeting 90 seconds (“Terminal Velocity”), which in turn melts into an ensemble of crinkling drones that crawl over eachother like a bed of insects and worms (“Black Beaches”). There are plumes of beauty and exhilarating eruptions of colour, although given the speed with which the sensory matter vanishes from view, I’m left cradling the emotional imprint rather than the sound itself, like a drunken night that unfolds too quickly to consciously register. Terminal Velocity is a slur of positive sensation; a waterfall that sends present-tense experience cascading into the pool of short-term memory. I know for certain I enjoyed myself. Just don’t ask me to recall specifics.