V/A ~ These Clouds…

Congratulations to Athens label Sound In Silence, who has just reached its 100th release!  (Wasting no time, the label released #s 101 and 102 the same day.)  These Clouds… is only the label’s second compilation, on the very slow heels of 2006’s These Waves…  While the genres vary, the mood is consistent throughout, a difficult feat with eighteen contributors.

Panoptique Electrical’s “Slowly the Sorrow” offers the label in a microcosm.  Straddling the fields of ambient and modern composition, the piece is anchored by a foundation of piano and strings, but produces that coveted mood of relaxation.  And while the title may reference sorrow, the track contains some uplift, due to its forward movement; the exact emotion is open to interpretation.  Sven Laux’s “The Missing” continues in this realm with crackle and string, simultaneously calm and melancholic.  When Yellow6 adds guitar, he retains the patient pacing, making a post-rock piece ambient as well.  “Everything, and Then Nothing” is one of the standouts, the unhurried opposite of the film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”  The Green Kingdom’s “Unspoken” extends the flow, with reverberant guitar; it’s clear that the label has paid attention to sequencing, as befits a milestone release.  It’s not until the fifth track that the album reaches what one might call “pure” ambience, although that tag is nebulous.

Some of these artists have appeared on Sound In Silence before, while others are slated to appear in the near future.  One can imagine them as a great community of chill, with each other’s albums on frequent rotation.  Whether one appreciates ambient music on its own or ambles across from another field (for example, electronic or modern composition), one is likely to find an entry point here.  And although one might argue that ambient music is not supposed to stand out, and each of these artists is solid, a few of these tracks rise above the rest.  Wil Bolton’s “Missed” makes lovely use of chime tones, producing a meditative effect.  Hotel Neon’s “Shadowed” swiftly develops an unexpected pulse, which evaporates like the ghost of a taped-over dance track.  And the static of The Humble Bee’s “Small Copper” draws instant attention, like a signal trying to break through, which it manages to do by the finale.  This adventurous ending leads to the most experimental piece.  Hainbach’s “Trans-Atlantic” is further evidence that sequencing is crucial, as the track would have sounded unnatural anywhere but the end.

George Mastrokostas (Absent Without Leave) has been doing a wonderful job with the label over the years, and we offer our best wishes for continued success!  (Richard Allen)

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