2007. Hypnos debut by interesting, wonderful and obscure
duo Austere who have been creeping up on the experimental
ambient world these last few years, and making themselves
known for atmospheric and uncompromising sound experiments
that always take chances, and express a truly singular
(though there are two of 'em) artistic point of view.
Pulse is an example of the sort of restrained
minimalism that Hypnos has dabbled in so often, and that
Hypnos listeners seem to love. Careful listening is
rewarded here, but Pulse also functions as wonderful
and very pleasant sonic perfume, if that's what you're
Simple and yet infinitely deep. Listen up!
Pulse is a single track, 53 minutes long.
MP3 sample clips: This is the way Pulse sounds
near the beginning,
near the middle, and
near the end.
"This release from 2006 offers 53 minutes of extreme minimalism. Ephemeral tonalities gather, thickening the air with the illusion
of density. In actuality, the ambience is extreme and understated. Misty pulsations surround the listener, wafting delicately
along the auditory canals. The intent is sedation, but not the somnambulant kind. This music is encoded with alpha waves
along with subtle bi-aural panning, producing a mood of relaxed concentration intended to facilitate creative activity in the brain.
The structure seems unchanging, but auxiliary textures sneak in over time, craftily altering the flow. Deeper tones rise to slowly
overwhelm the nucleus drone, only to be supplanted by other rarefied tones. The illusion of immobility is quite deceptive.
Comprising a single long track, this music possesses a loving dedication to undisturbed serenity. The stimulation achieved
by this tuneage could well go unnoticed unless the audience engages in cognition."
--Reviewed by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity, www.soniccuriosity.com
"There’s essentially no way to listen to the duo Austere’s new CD, Pulse, and be able to comment cogently on the entire thing. Because
at a point somewhere around the 15- to 25-minute mark, your brain simply surrenders, having been lulled and massaged into complete
relaxation, and just starts interpreting the sounds as a direct order to go into a deep theta state and stay there. It will, however, retain the
memory of warm, droning synth pads of misleading simplicity that waft easily and steadily onward, never in a hurry to do anything but not
hurry; eon-long chords convincingly demonstrating how easy it is to simply be, only ever changing slightly, and then just to become more
definitively what they had been in the first place—gentle and relaxing. Pulse is ideal background music and perfect for sleep-listening.
--Reviewed by John @ Hypnogogue
"Last in a series of three Austere works applying ambient principles to minimalist practice (and vice versa), Pulse follows 1998’s
Convergence and 2004’s Eco. This enigmatic pair are psychoactive musical practitioners, deploying a processing technique referred
to as “Brainwave Encoding”: barely perceptible binaural panning generates spatial sound characteristics to enhance brainwaves and
foster certain “mind states”. A still vital element in Reichian minimalism’s legacy—the phase shift technique—is also featured here:
recurring identical motifs initially run in parallel, imperceptible shifts slowly taking them out of sync with each other, then back in again.
The result is a long format piece whose surface is one of apparent statis, gradually revealing a longitudinally evolving deeper structure.
Recall Reich’s enduring maxim: “to facilitate closely detailed listening a musical process should happen extremely gradually.” So much
for minimalism. As for ambient principles, Pulse’s stated function of promoting a state of relaxed concentration or disposition toward
creative activity bears strong echoes of Neroli (subtitled Thinking Music, remember). And further appeals are made in accompanying
commentary to established Enovian ambient principles of music as environmental tint - as psychoactive prosthetic. Austere profess
to being inspired by Coil, Eno, SotL, and Robert Rich, and there is substance to their profession. Drones are wafted out into soft
ambient clouds of minimal tonal vapor, initially interspersed with rests, then becoming denser and more overlapping as the phase-shifting
kicks in, with the faint suggestion of a metallic echo halo constantly reconfiguring itself. With so little figure to grab onto, all being
ground and field, the listener may range freely, dipping in and out with attentivity off the leash. Such spaces being all about the same
tonemass swelling up and falling, infinitely recurring with minimal variativity, it’s important that the warp and weft of texture is
sufficently beguiling, and Austere, while living up to their no-frills nomenclature, demonstrate themselves to be well-versed in the
subtleties of these timbral dark arts."
--Alan Lockett, e/i Magazine