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Edition of 100 on cassettes with clear shell and letterpress j-card released by Notice Recordings (sold out, download only)

REVIEW:

TONE GLOW | (Joshua Kim)

In a sense, Vancouver-based composer Joda Clément constructs music that feels like a direct continuation of his father’s works. While Joda’s music never errs on the side of new age, there’s a clear interest in juxtaposing field recordings with one’s own instrumentation. What truly separates these two artists from each other, though, comes not from the immediate sonic differences but the degree with which one is able to distinguish between these two source materials.

Ever since Clément’s debut solo album Movement + Rest, he’s tried to intensify the innate emotional and musical characteristics of nature by layering it with his own input. Identifying what came from Clément’s own hands wasn’t particularly difficult then, and the mixing proves it wasn’t his intention to make it such, but there was still a sense that he was striving for a unified sound. That same goal has stayed with him and defined releases like Silo 11The Narrows, and North North.

The two sides of I hope you like the universe feature field recordings from around Canada but both are wholly distinct. On the first side, we hear the sound of wind rustling leaves and children talking. It isn’t the most relaxed atmosphere but it soon dips into something far more sinister; a mood that is primarily established by brooding synths and harmonium. The different sounds that Clément accompanies this with—machinery, static, the faint sound of bells—only make the piece feel more tense. This new soundscape is so well realized that single water droplets around twelve minutes in evoke a sense of helplessness. Soon after, the synth disappears and it sounds like we’ve exited a cave and the world around us has opened up; sirens, rain, and insects sound surprisingly pleasant.

The second side starts off dense. There are some sounds that penetrate the fog, most noticeably the sounds of cars driving by, but it isn’t until about five minutes in that the song starts to shed its skin. What follows is essentially a long-form drone. Synths occasionally warble and the sound of seagulls and ringing buoys act as nice flourishes but most of these sounds coalesce due to their similarities in tone and timbre. It’s a piece that envelops the listener and it proves constantly engaging due to its expert mixing and the way in which the focus frequently shifts between the different elements of the recording.

Interestingly, the final minutes of the track feature a slowly dissipating field recording that sounds like white noise. It eventually fades into silence and our attention slowly shifts to the actual environment we’re hearing this piece in and we become conscious of the different sounds around us. The 34 minutes that make up I hope you like the universe are the most homogeneous of anything that Joda’s created yet. And through it, he shows us the beauty that lies in his corner of the universe. It ends with an invitation for us to realize how it also exists in ours.

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