Sima Kim is a young South Korean whose ambient soundscapes are influenced by Western composition and born of ‘a state of mindfulness’. Following releases on several labels predominantly UK-based, Debris marks the fifth limited-edition CD launch from Belgium’s Soft Corridor.
The synth-based album features three main pieces around which shorter, two-to-three-minute fragments entitled “Debris” are scattered in four parts. A shadow lurks oppressively over the first two tracks and becomes most opaque in “Night Flight”, where it is defined by menacing whispers and mournful vocalising from US sound explorer, Heidi Harris (a superb but sadly sole contribution). This shadow recedes for the album’s centrepiece, the 20-minute “Where I Was With You”, in which a four-note refrain of stealthily growing prominence is enshrouded by textural layers. The upper layer is constant – a gentle shimmer of soothing dullness yet innate fragility, as though a brittle icicle slowly melting in sunshine. The lower layer bides its time before entrance, eventually emerging as an oceanic swell gently disturbing a vast plain of ice – its sustain and timbre almost cello-like. As implied by its title, the piece seems to evoke memories deeply etched of a period, a person and a place – a place cold and barren but filled with the warmth of that person. The vestigial warmth is now merely that of reminiscence.
“Where I Was…” marks a subtle turning point in the album’s mood. The two “Debris” fragments before it are darker or at best ambivalent, with low, distorted synths interrupted by pauses and faint crackles. These brief spaces lend rhythm to the pieces; they also suggest a mind beset by unwelcome disturbance, an inability to focus. The second half of the record seems to find this mind able to gather its fragments, and veers more towards drone in the process. “May” reintroduces rhythm, now created by presence rather than absence – a steady and affirming heartbeat that pumps optimism throughout the piece. By the close of Debris, its earlier weight has entirely dispersed, leaving an uninterrupted passage of almost transcendent aspect. The scattered mind has found its focus, and in doing so assures that listeners will keep theirs. (Chris Redfearn)