AMN Reviews: Various Artists – The Dystopian World of J​.​G​.​ Ballard (2022; Zero K)

This compilation is notable in both its consistency and lack thereof. Its 12 tracks, spanning about 75 minutes, each involve some form of gritty drone, many with shimming or lilting looped structures. But these efforts have their own unique identities that make them all part of a greater whole. Contributors include Grey Frequency, Mario Lino Stancati, JARL, Eraldo Bernocchi, HLER, Hector M. Reis, Lars Bröndum, Joel Gilardini, vÄäristymä, Mombi Yuleman, and Tarme Til Alle.

Each piece was influenced in some fashion by the writings of science fiction author J.G. Ballard. Somewhat ahead of his time, Ballard is labeled with the word “dystopian”, as his stories from 50+ years ago broached subjects that have only recently lost most of their taboo nature. He famously wrote, “The advanced societies of the future will not be governed by reason. They will be driven by irrationality, by competing systems of psychopathology.” Look around and tell me that has not already happened.

In any event, the music is enjoyable in its subtle quietness, though punctuated by rumblings and spacey themes. There is a solidly retro feel to this set, with the use of field recordings as well as analog buzz and hiss. While the majority of these undertakings might be lumped into the experimental dark ambient bucket, the pair of sound collages from Lars Bröndum stand out as having more in common with the works of Tod Dockstader for example. Other tracks fall at various places on the spectrum between ambient and musique concrete.

Once again, a stellar collection of the weird and unexpected from Zero K, an Unexplained Sounds Group label.

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