Romantic in tone, Not Knowing freely opens itself up, blossoming into the sweetest of ambient-tinted kisses. In this state of contemplation, of reflection, you can only surrender yourself to the sound and the beautiful bliss that lives inside. It is an invitation that you’d do well to accept.
Originally released as part of Ante Algo Azul, Not Knowing has been given a makeover, stretched from its original 18 minute length into a full 53 minutes. The piece, dedicated to French composer Eliane Radigue, is brave in the face of struggle, kissing the music with lips that daydream of a better life, sunshine and serenity sinking into the eyes until the reflected light drips like mascara rain. The ambient strings ooze in and out of the music, lifting the melody high in what is a beautiful orchestral swell, before they once again depart, leaving golden tails behind them.
You’ll find paradise, but at first it seems a long way off; the dreamy ambient texture promises to arrive, but the opening low, thick rumble seems to suggest a wrong turn and threatens to outstay its welcome, lasting for the first 10 minutes. Wait patiently, and the unveiling will come. The vibrations radiate outwards and help to soothe, thawing away the harsh blade of the world with its musical massage. On the other hand, the opening minutes can be quite a struggle for those uninitiated to the ambient genre. The payoff is more than worth it, though (as is the case with many a drone). The quiet, subtle opening is needed to build momentum and acts to sustain the listener for a longer ride.
Once the melody enters, everything else is soon abandoned, leaving you to sink deeply into a state of complete calm. The loop sways in volume as if on the whim of the wind-swept breeze. You know that it will return at some point, and her return is eagerly anticipated, like that of a lover returning home or the relief and joy at finally being reunited. The strings move slowly, in love with the thought of romance and the sentimentality that comes with it. They speak of red roses and passionate bonds, pastoral ways of life, a loving touch and the purple-pink bruise of the early evening light.
Later, a sweet choir of angels come to keep watch, guarding over you. Beautiful ambient textures soak themselves in a gorgeous harmonic honey that constantly twists and shifts. You could never tire of this. It is a mature and restrained piece of music, but the underlying drone is still allowed to flow purposefully. Nicholas Szczepanik is well-versed in ambient music, with each release marking a new high in terms of quality and musicianship. However, Not Knowing truly pierces the heart. Szczepanik then reels us back in, inverting the process and the journey that we’ve been on, bringing back the early dawn and the throb of the vibration, ready for a new season and another listen; patiently waiting for the cherry blossom to fall again. (James Catchpole)