How far down am I? 20,000ft? When I listen to Immerse with headphones, my ears fill with water. The synthesisers are great rumbles of ocean pressure, pushing against my head and smothering my understanding of orientation and space. The beats hit me like shockwaves sent pulsing through the water by an unseen submarine, regulatory and metronomic, electing themselves as the resting heartbeat of the ocean itself. Sometimes there’s great clang or crumble, which could be the decay of an ocean cliff somewhere beneath me – the earth wilfully reshaping itself through gravity and water erosion, the destruction subdued by the grace of underwater movement.
It’s one thing to sculpt the sensation of being stranded alone underneath the water. Over the course of this fluid 80-minute piece, Periskop also reshapes the experience to reflect the modulations of the listener’s psychological response: the sensory deprivation that develops into ever-thickening phantom noises and shards of hallucination, the panic that simmers in the gut and then floods the listener’s every fibre. In the closing stages I start to hear little strands of breath and voice caught within surge of bubbles, as my brain turns desperate in the absence of human interaction. During moments like these, the sudden and sparing emergence of “surface” noises feels vital and beautiful. Periskop places sounds of clarity and conviction amidst the oceanic obfuscation, and those little sparkling droplets of electronic hi-hat and zipping synthesiser – occasional, fleeting – only emphasise the depths to which I have plummeted. I only fully comprehend Immerse as I take my first gulp of the silence that follows it, and realise that I haven’t taken a crisp, clean breath in over an hour.