Cold, dark atmospherics snake around the music of deep map. Something lurks just below the surface, producing the occasional splash and a series of subtle ripples as its tentacles slowly break the water. Norway’s Helge Tømmervåg (Mind Over MIDI) plunges the listener into a murky landscape clouded by deep pads and unusually-shaped found sounds, delivering drops of cold – but not icy – ambient music. Static speeds across the music in its unpredictable, scurrying way, but the underlying, deeper notes are slower and the soupy swells are still submerged, pushed down by outside influences.
As the light of a new dawn approaches, the gloomy, sunken register is banished. The glowing synths of “Scenic Qualities” feel a whole lot lighter – weightless, almost – but it doesn’t last for long. The obstinate, infinitely deep textures resolutely return. deep map is incredibly sensitive and highly susceptible to change. Ripples, undercurrents and wind speed all seemingly affect its flight. A fresh breeze kisses the skin, and black birds suddenly scatter, rising in tandem over the yawning fjord.
It’s an all-encompassing ambient experience. Sometimes, the substantial textures appear to drip; you can’t escape its damp tone. As a light drizzle, it even lingers in the air. As above, so below. The tentative and wobbly melodic lines of the opener soon quickly learn how to swim on their own. Before you know it, their limbs are strong and perfectly developed for aquatic, deep blue life, equally glowing and growling. A purring bass sits comfortably by the edge of oily water. At times slightly oppressive, the pads also constantly absorb the incomparable clarity of fresh air, replenishing itself repeatedly. Fierce gusts of wind sway the music. Cool synths billow outwards, flapping and tearing apart as a result of the storm. As the rain begins to fall, the wind only strengthens. “Strandline” loses most of its harmonic edge, but it rises back up to the surface, reflecting bursts of sunlight as it uses up its remaining energy. For the rest of the record, deep map falls, falls, falls into the black depths. With no warning, the interfering electronics of “Primal Landscape” start to slowly break up. They then dissolve rapidly and spectacularly until they are no more. Tiny flecks are left to float in the eternal grave of the sea. As deep map fades out, experimental passages pass by, dipping and diving, singing their song.
deep map is imbued with an illustrious beauty, of bright-eyed awe and unstoppable forces, of spacious depths and unusual inhabitants. You’d never know it, but there’s life deep under the placid surface; a million worlds united under one sea. (James Catchpole)
Release Date: December 7