Review of Snowmelt [12k2052]

Musique Machine (.COM)

I stumbled on this album in the late-night hours, and it ended up being a fitting time to absorb this sleepy, cosy opus of ambient & folk guitar by Seaworthy (guitarist Cameron Webb) and soundscape artist Matt Rösner.

Snowmelt presents us with a selection of soothing lullabies with a soft, yet deliberate energy, there is a feeling of willful gradual dissolving into a gently flowing steam. Each phrase of the guitar plaintively undulates, patiently following the previous, never too rude or abruptly, ensuring the sum of its utterances was a smooth sort of glide.

The electronic backdrop is quiet and unintrusive but filled with rich subtlety. There’s some kind of drone with a chordal underpinning, as well field recordings in creative stereo panning, in every piece. As I listened, I noticed that the tracks were named after locations visited by the music’s creators, adding a layer of personal depth to the feeling of traversal from one location to another.

The intent of the recording starts to become clear, as I realize the guitar is a sort of emotional interpretation placed over the physical document of the artists’ travels, making for sort of tribute to these natural environments, clearly remote places filled with a hushed spiritual peace.

The pairing of sparse guitar phrasing and soft, rustling ambience may seem unstructured or sparse at first, but produces deeply moving results, as glimpses of the haunting emotions produced by natural vistas filter into the listener’s mind eye through the muddy lens of the microphone.

The field recordings in the backdrop tend to be low fidelity, with a masked tone, missing some of the sound’s original complexities. In contrast to this, the guitar in the foreground is luminous; well recorded, clear and immediate. This leads to an impression of the cozy studio environment in which the guitar exists feeling more ‘real’ than the natural backdrops.

I highly recommend this wonderfully creative and yet soothingly serene album. The traversal from place to place that takes place within the layered field recordings in the backdrop is hypnotic. Though it could sometimes benefit from better recording quality, its arrangement as an album long narrative is balanced and poetic. The guitar performance is emotive and inspired.

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