‘Refined ambient-electronic music production knows no borders, something clearly borne out by respective new releases on Tympanik Audio by Tangent, a Netherlands outfit featuring drummer/sound designer Ralph van Reijendam and vocalist/sound engineer Robbert Kok, and Idlefon, the alias adopted by Tehran, Iran-based computer musician/sound artist Hesam Ohadi.
Transience, Tangent’s follow-up to 2013’s 1mk2, sees the Dutch duo presenting the listener with an evocative, sixty-five-minute travelogue that plays like some imaginary sound portrait of a civilization’s collapse and rebirth. In the early stages of the recording, there’s a dark tone to the material that conjures images of smoldering ruins and decimated landscapes, as well as an industrial undercurrent that suggests a failed vision of progress, but the mood lifts near the half-way mark. The duo gives great attention to the textural make-up of a given piece in overlaying curdling beatwork with symphonic washes and detailed electronic moodsculpting, resulting in brooding set-pieces of powerfully evocative character. Though identifiable sounds at times emerge from the mix (acoustic and electric piano, field recordings, etc.), Tangent’s focus is on the whole rather than parts; in other words, it’s the entire make-up of a given piece that is the duo’s primary concern, and sounds only matter in terms of the effect they have upon the overall arrangement.
The air is sometimes so thick with dust and grime, the view is obscured by the multiple layers that accumulate so suffocatingly. But as despairing as some tracks on Transience might be, others hint that there’s room for hope. Rising from the smothering ashes of “Shattered,” “Expanding Horizons,” for example, allows some semblance of light to filter into its post-apocalyptic design, while faint traces of children’s voices suggest the promise of new life during the contemplative moodpiece “Discovery.” “Radiating Singularity” less radiates singularity than energy, as if to suggest that the industrial activity present is being used in the service of reconstruction; in similar manner, the very track titles “Bloom” and “Reformed Construction” intimate positive developments of a similar kind. In terms of volume and dynamics, Transience isn’t an overbearing collection, even if there are a few aggressive moments here and there. In fact it’s the quieter pieces such as “Discovery” and “Reformed Construction,” however, that speak most strongly on behalf of Tangent’s artistry on this slightly overlong outing by the Dutch outfit.’