Music Reviews

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Artist: Amp (@)
Title: Entangled Time
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sound in Silence always seems to come up with interesting releases (making it one of my favorite labels of late) and this one by Amp is certainly a pleasure. For those not familiar with the Amp project, it is the electronic/post rock duo of Richard F. Walker (aka Richard Amp) and Karine Charff, based in London, UK. Amp's lineup has changed numerous times over the years since its inception by Walker in 1992. Prior to that Walker was a member of a band in Bristol called The Secret Garden that incubated a number of groups including Flying Saucer Attack and Third Eye Foundation. Amp's permutations and collaboration members (not to mention its discography) could fill a page, but you can find that information elsewhere.

Having no prior acquaintance with Amp I took a brief tour through their discography to get a sense of what they're about and a feel for their evolution over time. Pieces ranged from droney-experimental and sometimes noise-based to exhibiting some [traditional] song structure, albeit somewhat loose. Rhythm was sometimes present, sometimes not. Vocals (where present) were often swathed in reverb and echo making them another hazy ambient element, some with lyrics, others wordless. While most of the instrumental elements are electronic, and keyboard based, guitar and other instruments were sometimes employed. Sometimes the motif is noisy shoegazer, ala My Bloody Valentine. Within the confines of their oeuvre there seems to be a fair amount of variety, although the drone and shoegaze formats remain constant. Nothing ever approaches anything even remotely mainstream; their improvisatory nature precludes that.

While a good number of their past works often feature the experimental and avant-garde, 'Entangled Time' is relatively straightforward and set with little deviation from its structure. Gauzy, gossamer drones and pads are employed throughout the five tracks in 43 minutes that comprises this album. Charff's ethereal vocals float over, under, around and through this haze like a shimmering, elegant thread in a sonic tapestry. Rhythm is used sparingly (on two tracks only - "Will-Oh Dreams," and "Will-Oh Dreams Extended Mix") and is minimal. While some might say that rhythm in predominantly ambient music of this type is just a distraction, I think it adds to the hypnotic effect. Karine's deliciously dreamy Ophelia-like voice is not omnipresent but when it does appear, it adds dimension and depth that makes this work a standout in the realm of ambient. While not breaking any new ground here, Amp solidified its approach and trimmed the rough edges often found in their previous efforts. A worthy album, limited to 200 handmade and hand-numbered collectible copies, the like of which Sound In Silence is typically known for.



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