Reviews 8-25-2017

Music Reviews 



Trans-Neptunian Objects

by ASC

Visit ASC's Bandcamp site 




 UK's soundscaper James Clements, now based in Del Mar, near San Diego, California, is the sole protagonist behind ASC project and also the man behind Auxiliary label. I believe ASC got quite famous mostly through his CD releases on sympathetic Canadian label Silent Season, where he released since 2011 five highly applauded albums. His last one for this label, "No Stars Without Darkness" (out since October 2016), is considered as one of the ultimate pinnacles of Silent Season's entire release list. Now with "Trans-Neptunian Objects" ASC marks his ambient return to his own label and follows the deep space traces masterfully explored through above mentioned opus "No Stars Without Darkness". Released at the end of June 2017 in catchy 4-panel digipak precisely displaying extraterrestrial enigmas.

ASC ignites this spectacularly immersing odyssey with nearly 13-minute "Sedna", the longest piece on the album. Additional Googling tells me that all 8 tracks are entitled after largest known trans-Neptunian objects, thus the opening "Sedna", discovered in 2003, is the most distant object known to orbit around the sun and also one of the most reddest among Solar System objects. Cosmic rumblings unfold the journey, but it's the mysteriously desolate drone persistently percolated by solitarily massive winds, which propels the imagination of each devoted voyager. Nuanced stratums glide through euphoniously reverberant domains, exquisitely softened by warmly undulating expansive vistas, intangibly high-pitched signals, shimmering cinematic glimpses and accidental eruptions.


A truly jaw-dropping Hall of Fame aural spectacle, bravo, James! "Dysnomia" got its name after the only known moon of the dwarf planet Eris, the most massive in the Solar System. The drone gets slightly harsher, less intense, percolated by heavier, impalpably languid beats, assorted tenebrously engrossing traceries and transiently magnifying surges. "Eris" returns to deeper, sonorously engrossing traces, where ambiguously helixing meridians continuously commingle with brumous cyber-biotic glimmers and subsidiary embracing horizons.

 "Haumea", which means a plutoid, a dwarf planet beyond Neptune's orbit, is reaching almost 10-minute mark and it keeps tightly on exploring thrillingly oracular immenseness, driven my massive monochromatic drone layers superiorly juxtaposed by evanescent percussive subtleties, clattering echoed remnants and amorphously, yet poignantly enrapturing yearning piano-infused blankets. We are still in the middle of the whole adventure, but the listener is relentlessly confronted with tremendously fascinating and multifariously tenacious aural phenomenons! A plutino, a trans-Neptunian object "Orcus", just a few seconds shorter than "Haumea", dives into abysmally mysterious depths, where monumentally tiding panoptic choir-like drone is amalgamated with elusively ringing illuminations. Along the way inconspicuously emerging billows lead to magnifying sonic vertexes. "Ixion", another plutino, firmly drifts through unfathomably voluminous zones, when magnificently coalescing warmly cascading panoramic magnitudes with transient tinkles, organic ambrosias, rattling fractals, transcendental reflexions and ephemeral voice transmission beams. Obviously a 9-plus minutes long eargasmic listening experience awaits here!!! 10-minute "Vanth", the only known moon of Orcus, is slightly noisier with its array of intensely sharper hissy swirls blended with mesmerizing pulses, auxiliary beacons and flatlined, yet sinuously infused drone solitudes. Around the 5th minute clandestinely transmogrifying into quieter, yet slowly arising and culminating graceful expansions guarded by choir-driven celestial sublimities and permeated by remotely raucous subtleties. "Quaoar", as a Kuiper belt object and probably a dwarf planet, closes this breathtakingly adventurous odyssey with rather calmer, hauntingly waving and balmily enveloping driftscape bridged with fizzy introspective tapestries. Wow! 

Although ASC's discography features around 13 solo CDs, the only exception is one collaboration with Sam KDC, James Clements has released tons of singles and EP's, both solo and collaborative, maybe even counting over 100, I believe many of them focus on his earlier atmospheric drum and bass career or techno, IDM, downtempo and other related styles. However, my definite focus goes towards his enigmatic drone ambient soundcarving and "Trans-Neptunian Objects" must be his magnum opus together with already aforestated "No Stars Without Darkness" and also with "Fervent Dream", released on Silent Season in 2015, at least according to my own taste. True sonic monuments indeed!!! Nearly 74 minutes long "Trans-Neptunian Objects" album, virtuosically revealing the origin and evolution of the Solar System, belongs to the most sophisticated milestones in astronomical journeying I have ever encountered and ASC has entered the pantheon with the titans of deep space soundscaping!!! Once again, bravo, James Clements!

Reviewed by Richard Gürtler (August 25, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)