Review: Chambers - Sigma Flare II

Chambers - Sigma Flare IIThere is a quiet turbulence here. When those dub beats start to pulse from beneath, the record asserts a relationship with urban destitution. Harmonies ricochet against concrete surfaces, navigating a noise that hangs in the air like factory dust, while drones curdle into a smog of dissonance. But when the beats stop, I start to notice organic flora spilling out of the cracks; droplets of plucked string (a koto perhaps?) and strummed guitars start to streak the monochromatic landscape with shades of green and tranquillity. The record tilts between ghostly threat and cleansing breadths of emptiness and solitude, perhaps straddling a boundary between urban death and the inevitable takeover of organic life: greenery sprouting up through unwalked pavements, trees climbing over the crumbling walls of dormant industry.

The beats are deliberately throttled back into simple mechanisms of pulse and tick, like bystanders observing the takeover in states of agitated stillness. Yet just as Chambers refuse to engage in a rhythmic forward momentum, they also resist the slopes of inevitable atmospheric change. When guitars flower over “151” with solemn beauty – like a slow outbreak of drooping bluebells, bringing to mind Bark Psychosis’ swathes of melancholy – the immediate instinct of Chambers is to push back against their own sentiment, sending spurts of dirty synthesiser in the other direction to fog the path of progress. Instead of keeping Sigma Flare II in a state of balance, the record rocks in a limbo of instability. It tilts back and forth, forever overshooting the point of equilibrium, helplessly trying to placate the turmoil that resides, methodically and insidiously, at its core.