AMN Reviews: Ascending Divers – Watery Domain (2022; Cyclic Law)

Deep, airy drones…lilting voices and chamber instrumentation…minimalist yet throbbing beat patterns…there is nothing not to like about the first few minutes Watery Domain. The album is the latest from Ascending Divers (Hugo Champion), and is an exploration of oceanic myths. These core elements of windswept synth layers, voices, hints of strings, and the occasional thump or drum roll are arranged in various ways throughout this offering.

Indeed, the droning chords and vocals often blend in a hazy fashion, for example on Clamor of an Off-Shore Dismissal and Ear the Shell Peach. This gives the album a strange presence of dull anxiety that warns of ever-present danger. Low bass notes contribute to this ominous feel, with subtle rumbling or jarring spikes. Occasional noises from field recordings or manipulation of objects also find their way into these pieces, while the beats become fewer and further between.

This general approach continues until the final (and longest) track, Wreck. It is initially an amalgam of non-musical elements – wind, water, echoes, and the rumbling of large structures. Thick synth lines slowly integrate themselves into the mix, gradually taking over with slow-moving melodies. This continues for several minutes until the seascape acoustics return and then fade.

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