The Materia Experiment is a project by Adam Sharples. He recently released House of Asterion which is for the most part an ambient album that flirts with grunge and distortion in general. The music I felt was often in between the serene warm glow of a band like Windy & Carl and the distorted drone of Sunn O))).
There seems to be a narrative aligned with the album that you can read on their Bandcamp page. As I say in the past I’m not a huge advocate of setting a narrative with instrumental music. I prefer to let the music create an open ended narrative conquering visual imagery itself rather then having a narrative create a more parochial concept of where it wants you to be led.
The album starts with “House of Asterion” which revolves around guitar work and ambient ornamentation that mostly come in the form of reverb and swells. “House of Asterion” never takes off much farther than where it starts with occasional moments that are more intense due to harder strumming and distortion. “The Erisian Vault” is in a similar vein. Towards the end of the song Sharples starts to strum heavily on the guitar which inevitably makes the lush and subversive soundscape begin to sound like a singular guitar.
“Materia” goes into the lower depths of the journey. Sharples plays with reverb and white noise. The high points come when he interjects what sounds like ’70’s inspired Pink Floyd experimental lead on top of the hypnotic and repetitive note progression.
“Black Locust: Eidolon from the 8th Circuit” was a clear highlight mainly due to the fact that the idea of a guitar essentially disappeared and was dropped in favor of a more immersive field of sound that very much felt like what the best ambient music does. The vocal snippets and the slow drone created the journey I was hoping to get.
“...and so to dive beyond the light…” is another highlight due to the same fact that it blurs the line of what instrument is being played. The song sounds more like a repressed, ambiguous memory which keep it interesting. “...to Otherwhere & Hadal Kingdoms” was another high point that makse for a very strong three-song arch. The album ends with a song that took away from the imagery and was left with image of a person playing guitar.
The album felt a little too much on the lo-fi at times for the type of album it was trying to be. The guitar in particular would have benefited from some cutting between 200 - 400 hz to gain a little clarity. That being said some songs such as “Black Locust: Eidolon from the 8th Circuit” seemed to get it just about right.
I first started listening to the ambient recordings by Brian Eno about twenty years ago and since then have discovered some many like-minded artists such as Stars of the Lid, Fennesz, and Gas that make immersive soundscapes. I’d say if you enjoy some of the aforementioned artists you should give this a shot.
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