Author Topic: Drone On's review of "Below Sea Level" CD by Simon Scott  (Read 1438 times)

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Drone On's review of "Below Sea Level" CD by Simon Scott
« on: June 20, 2012, 10:31:35 AM »
Simon Scott is a UK sound artist who is mostly well known as the original drummer (technically he was the second drummer) for acid-soaked ethereal rockers Slowdive, playing on the band's early Creation e.p's and LP's "Just for a Day" and "Souvlaki," which are veritible bibles of the short-lived but highly celebrated shoegaze phenomenon of the early 90's.  Leaving Slowdive circa 1993 due to creative differences (Scott wanted to play more jazz-like rhythms), he went on to form a couple obscure post-Shoegaze bands before exploring an interest in producing atmospheric soundscapes as a solo artist.  His highly-recommended (by me) 2011 Miasmah Recordings LP "Bunny" was a psychoactive brew of electric guitar textures, psychedelic rock, dub, ambient, tape manipulation, jazzy drumming, and the occasional understated vocal, and some of it sounded remarkably close to Slowdive.

Whereas "Bunny" was more post-rock with nods to Shoegaze, Scott's 12k debut "Below Sea Level" is, not surprisingly, a largely ambient affair.  Inspired by the Fens (marshy wetland areas of eastern England), this 7-part concept album of sorts employs extensive use of field recordings, electric guitars, and a heavy dose (no pun intended) of various processing techniques to create a gentle, pleasantly disorienting experience.  Perhaps not surprisingly, his work here fits in neatly with the glitchy experimentalism/minimalism of many on the 12k roster, such as label boss Taylor Deupree.  Soundscapes from the Fens--water, insects, water fowl, frogs, faint voices in the distance--blend with guitars that are gently picked and strummed one moment, then transformed into spacious drones and buzzing, glitchy shards of sound the next.  Occasionally the guitars get noisy, albeit in a quiet way. 

As one semi-famous ambient reviewer would say, this is all "nothing new under the sun," and he'd be right.  Nevertheless, the album should appeal to the drone/field recordings crowd a la Mystery Sea and also to the 12k enthusiast who has enjoyed the label's previous releases.  "Below Sea Level" could be the perfect aural accompaniment for a lazy summer afternoon with a pair of Sennheisers and a lakefront view.