I’ve never really gone in for the whole Weather Dependant Music thing. You know, listening to Pop Punk in Summer, Immortal in Winter, Megadeth when the clouds spell out the word “dickhead” in the sky? It always felt a little superficial to me, turning music into a glorified decoration, when REAL music fans listen to whatever they want whenever they want it.
The latest Ugasanie album turning up in the middle of a freak cold-snap when the roads were all closed by snow has gone some way towards changing my mind on that.
The first word that Ice Breath of Antarctica (Cryo Chamber) brought to my mind is “monolithic”. All of the smooth jazz, post-rock sensibilities and surprising musical diversity that marks recent Cryo Chamber releases are utterly, defiantly absent – this is Dark Ambient as unrelenting drone, nine blocks of impenetrable howling noise without the slightest touch of light or warmth.
The whole “that’s not music” debate surrounding anything that dares not to have recognisable melodies or rhythms is utterly tiresome, but in Ugasanie’s case it makes a strange sense – this frequently sounds less like music attempting to describe a thing than a recording of the thing itself. It sounds like the sounds you’d find at the centre of a blizzard so huge that no human would ever carry a tape recorder inside it, like a broadcast from an unmanned communication centre that’s still operating hundreds of years after the new ice age claimed humanity. Like sole member Pavel Malyshkin’s other Cryo Chamber project Silent Universe, the artfully “naturalistic” style of the music means that when something happens – some strange shimmering noise at the edges of your perception, an unexpected shift in tone – it feels like a freak occurrence that the mic was lucky to catch, rather than something carefully planned out.
Ice Breath of Antarctica is an album where the concept of pinning a number on it to estimate how “good” it is seems completely pointless – if it clicks with you it will do things to your mind that can’t be given a meaningful score out of 10, and if it doesn’t you’re just going to be listening to a “whoosh” noise for ten minutes and wondering if there’s a streaming problem. It’s not the easiest starting point for new listeners, and for many will require very specific listening conditions for it to really make sense, but as a statement of single, monolithic intent, it’s as close to flawless as can be imagined.