One day soon we may hear the last of the albums produced during the pandemic, but not yet. In the physical sense, this period was responsible for a blossoming of music; in the psychological sense, it highlighted the experience of time distortion, which was then translated into music. Drone seems the perfect genre for such perceptions, incorporating long, slow passages with undulating curves and incremental changes in timbre. Over time, the listener realizes that movement has taken place, although it is often unnoticed while unfurling.
Enter Ozmotic and Fennesz, who exchanged files while isolated and were able to meet in person once the crisis eased to put the finishing touches on this album. The extension of time allowed the ideas to germinate, the notes to marinate into tones. A profound sadness seeps into the title piece, as orchestral tones gather and dissipate. High-pitched tones enter, heralding light percussion: time markers that distinguish this segment from others. The guitar joins the procession, tentative at first, then assertive; but never frantic, never rushed. Then a return to the beginning – but still something has changed: if not in the music, at least in the listener.
“Floating Times” seems a perfect title for the past three years. One year of the pandemic felt like two. Holiday and milestone celebrations were postponed. Days, months and finally years were dislodged. The track begins with soft static, blooming mid-piece into melody: a fragile heart still hoping to soar. An electronic pulse quickens with expectation, then fades, the static reemerging. For the second time, a track cycles back to the start, like samsara, providing hope of exit without an obvious path.
Is there a more drone-like title than “Motionless Image of Eternity?” The title is tongue-in-cheek, since the track does move, and possesses both form and ending. The center may seem nebulous, but a nebula also shifts ~ though such movements are imperceptible to the naked eye. The closing “Movements” seems to counter the preceding title, although “movements” has a double meaning. The track is composed as two movements, but the trio shares that it is also filled with “sinuous movements, in a sort of ‘rubato’, with the intention of creating an orchestral breath to the entire album.” Breath became a central theme of the pandemic, from those gasping for ventilator breath to George Floyd’s infamous “I can’t breathe.” While not directly referencing such associations, in a self-proclaimed “lockdown record” they are difficult to escape. The fact that the closing tempo is the most obvious, the persuasion the most upfront, provides a sign of progress; society is again in motion, albeit wondering if it is moving in the right direction. (Richard Allen)