LP on Miasmah
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Simon Scott has a notable musical past: in the early 90's he was the drummer for the renowned shoegaze band Slowdive, whose acclaimed 'Souvlaki' album is still considered by many to be one of a handful of landmark releases from that scene. Upon leaving Slowdive he formed the experimental, and more electronic-based group Televise. He also set up his own label, Kesh Recordings, and has so far released titles by the likes of Hannu, Sebastian Roux, Aus and Mark Templeton. More recently Scott has been involved in several diverse projects, including his work as a member of Seavault (with Antony Ryan from Isan), and collaborations with Machinefabriek, Jasper TX and Emmanuele Errante, offering live guitar treatments, providing remix work and in turn being remixed himself. Regular appearances alongside Rafael Anton Irisarri as the live incarnation of The Sight Below (Ghostly International), have seen the duo enthralling audiences with their submerged post-Chain Reaction guitar/techno ambience. With 'Navigare', his debut solo release for Miasmah, there are shades of Scott's previous output and musical interests, but as a whole the album marks a bold new direction, taking his music into new uncharted territory.
'Navigare' opens with ‘Introduction of Cambridge’, a shimmering wall of sound, its ethereal tones and slow burning drones gradually drawing closer and closer, creating gorgeous uplifting melodies and textures. The processed guitar combined with gentle swathes of interference and underlying rhythms echoes the processes of Chain Reaction's productions as much as it does the screeching, arcing feedback lines of Kevin Shield's guitar work. If this is to be considered 'shoegaze' in any way, it's certainly a giant step in possibilities...this album is way too forward-thinking to be pigeonholed so easily. ‘Navigare’ shares an affinity with the melodic content of Fennesz's work, the dark beauty of Tim Hecker's sound, and houses elements of the restraint found in Andrew Chalk's drone compositions.
What really devastates here is Scott's ability to merge ambient passages with such memorable melodic cycles, taking at times the simplest of ideas and building on them, generating murky hooks and submerged 'riffs' - melodies are initially buried beneath a haze of sound, and then over time are lifted to the forefront. Scott explores textures using a variety of instruments including sitar, violin, cello, and flute, merging them with excerpts of field recordings; it all sounds so effortless. The looping rhythms and slow guitars rise and grow, at times approaching something oppressive; select pieces such as ‘Flood Inn’ house an underlying weight, comparable to Justin K. Broderick's Jesu and Final projects. Perhaps the hazy drums, bass and guitar drift of ‘The ACC’ presents the most recognizable of stylistic qualities from Scott’s back catalogue; a groove that recalls the ‘Souvlaki’ era sound in all its glory, reimagined in a new, darker and more expansive form.
There is a less academic, more 'organic' approach to composition here than the recent, equally spectacular run of Miasmah titles, which include Elegi's 'Varde' and Kreng's 'L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu'. As such, fans of the label will no doubt be enthralled by the diversity. Additionally, a guest appearance from label mate Jasper TX, a vocal contribution from Moskitoo (12K), and a track co-written with Rafael Anton Irisarri (also of Miasmah), adds even more depth to Scott’s already ambitious vision.