Pascal Savy is a French musician who specializes in an organic kind of ambient that ages like the skin. His drifting drones are well versed in the art of decay, its vanquishing of youth and its intrinsic link to life. With Adrift, he’s set the bar even higher.
Transitional waves float around in a spacious ambient pool. Clusters of debris – little scraps caught up in the atmosphere – swim on the currents, lost to the ocean forever. Sunken signals pick up an ancient shipwreck. Acidic tones eat away at the clean music, like an oil spill coating the music’s sea-born inhabitants and then devouring the local wildlife as it reaches the black shore.
Savy uses acoustic and electronic textures; tape loops, pickups, field recordings and noise all become one as they roll around in the atmosphere. Murky tones ghost around in the fog, like an ancient mariner’s mythical tale of terror. Rolling around on the sea, Adrift is exploratory, subtle and kissed by wisps of mystery.
“Refraction” lingers long in the mind and by this point the icy water has taken on a very real chill. Ships slowly sail by. Like some Lovecraftian story brought to life, the black and white enigma flickers in the water, ripples the surface. It seems to rise up out of the sea as we watch from the relative safety of a silent shore; in and out of the water, in and out of reality.
By the midway point, the music has taken us inside, and we’re lost in a turbulent drone. Static starts to buzz uncontrollably – the sound of a split in reality – and it heralds the strange arrival of a phantom ship. “Haunted Weather” is another uneasy track and has just the right kind of atmosphere, brooding and nocturnal. Crashed fragments lie in the mind as well as on the ocean bed, whether it be a recurrence of deja vu or the cruel disintegration of memory in later life. They are real terrors, and they both squirm into the music. “Disappearance” has an eerie atmosphere that reels you in. Murmuring voices seem to sing their choral-high songs, the sound of mermaids circling their treasured resting place.
Listen to Adrift and your mind empties, clears itself. It’s one of the best ambient albums of 2014, if not the best. Just listen to its song of serenity, its open and yet cautious tone. It says: respect the sea, and the sea will respect you. Ambient music should always put atmosphere first. Adrift rests on the night sea, its ghost haunting the whitecaps. (James Catchpole)