The first track is called “Widely Open Window”, and it fits the title perfectly. It’s a sonic analogy to letting fresh air and sunlight circulate the room in the morning: the shower of sunlight as the curtain is pulled back, followed by the cold air that spills in once the windows are push out. Darkness and stagnancy melt away. Life returns to the space. The drones fan outward and stretch toward the far corners, soft and shapeless, bedecked with harmonic details that glitter like tiny jewels. If there’s a constant throughout this collection (which is partly a brand new record, and partly a compilation of pieces from 2011), it’s the ability of Strom Noir to channel those invisible orchestrators of atmosphere: the aforementioned rush of cold air in the morning, the clammy anxiety of fraught social situations, the harsh polluted air of factory spaces, the strange hallucinatory murmurs of daytime napping after sleepless nights. These ethers contract and expand like flowers blooming and withering, tightening and unravelling in their harmonic range, moving from joyous open stretches to murmurs of cramped microtonality. The air thickens and thins. My breathing adjusts accordingly.
If I listen carefully, I can hear traces of guitars and electronics (and voices perhaps?) at the very base of it all. For the most part (during the newer pieces in particular), they’re obscured by their own emissions. Fretboards are masked by veils of string vibration and keyboards come smothered in loops and generous reverb, obfuscating all route back to their points of origin. Tracks like “Against A Dwarf” – a 15-minute descent from sweeping, major-key arpeggiations to frigid clusters of hum – change too slowly for me to consciously realise, receding into the cold one drone at a time. The same happens with “Tlkot Dreva & Bzukot Kovu”, which intensifies from a light patter of electronics to a downpour of synthesised orchestra, turning a peripheral atmospheric trace into a scene that verges on natural disaster. The marvel of Strom Noir is his ability to tap into passages of time that unfold at different speeds to our own; he strands me in ambiences that seem to unfold indefinitely, wielding a form of progress that moves at a pace I can’t perceive, thus slipping past me undetected. Every now and then I consciously acknowledge how much my surroundings have changed. I have no idea how I got here, and no way to identify my route back home again.