earthly delights archive
Since moving away from harsher, industrial electronics about 1986, Nigel Ayers has been producing flowing ambient work that is soothing and sometimes a bit unsettling. On his last several albums Ayers primarily used natural sounds like animal or baby cries in his music. Here he has apparently returned entirely to musical instruments. The instruments were all played by charlotte Bill, and then "disarranged and decomposed" by Ayers. The result is a drifting, pulsing melange of layers of synthesizer and string that sounds not unlike the crickets and church harmonium on the groupís 1988 album Spiritflesh. Each of the three tracks is about 24 minutes long. Temporal Threshold is the standout: dreamy but with touches of eeriness that somehow conjures the secret thoughts of prickly weeds growing in a meadow. The other two are worthwhile but not as successful (though the middle third of Pulsation Scale is excellent. A good album though not the groupís best. It does however, have the best packaging: a round metal film case.
The latest release, containing three pieces of multi-layered electronic meanderings spiced with disorientating loops, clattering and fragmented sounds, lasting over 70 minutes long. Complete with a metal box (not unlike the CD re-issue of P.I.L.ís Metal Box packageÖ) filled with a white crystalline substance. A beautiful piece of work.
The disk is mood in a can, a CD packed with salt in a round tin container stamped with the symbol for sodiumís atomic structure. Within are three ambient constructions that suitable capture the sensation of intensity with very restrained and rarefied musical gestures. What is surprising about Englandís Nocturnal Emissions is a lack of the brooding gothic undertones that so many European ambient noisemakers peddle. The abstract drama of the music come from a space closer to Tom Waits than Nick Cave, which I think people would find quite accessible if given the exposure.
Throbbing Gristle seem to have given a lot of people the impression that experimental music is for the mentally unstable, which is simply not true. This is a release that doesnít require the protection of preconceived and precious ideology of art to demonstrate its universal truths
To my ears the current musical manifestations of N.E. are surely some of the most efficacious and accessible material they have produced to date. A complex simplicity based around the layered repetition of sound bytes from a treasure chest of source material. Sounds of nature, childrenís toys, even a keyboard on a keychain, N.E. lovingly curate them and mutate them with a tangible coherency. N.E. have been producing music for over a decade and have always been one step ahead. Living through the "Industrial" era they have seen many of their contemporaries slip into obscurity. The word "ambient" is being bandied around at present like some be-all-and-end-all of music. Take a pew and listen with a religious discipline to a soaring sermon from the church of Earthly Delights.
Robert H King