Benjamin Dauer – Saturation Event

Thin, stretching, branches adorn the cover of Benjamin Dauer’s new release Saturation Event, the branches hold a heavy contrast with the foggy unknown background and a sense of eerie calm greets those who look at it. To be honest, it is slightly unnerving…and I love it. While a lot of ambient music for me creates a feeling of nostalgia and memory it is always welcome when a record takes me out of my comfort zone, when a record does not make me feel at ease and rather makes me uncomfortable. Dauer achieves this right from the start with Borderland of Sleep, after almost two minutes of dark sounds echoing in the distance, perhaps accompanied by some sort of otherworldly being, a large swell of ambience hits me and sends shivers up my spine. It seems that his trick here isn’t to surprise the listener, but to build tension up to a point where an introduction of a new element of sound is enough to force me to look behind my shoulder to make sure no one else is in my room watching me…

It isn’t just a build of tension that Dauer has mastered here, but also the ability to create full universes with densely textured ambience. One adopts a sense of floating amongst the sounds and engaging in dialogue with strange characters from abroad. On Alistrati sounds echo deeply and bounce off and around one another, perhaps resembling that of the famous cave native to the town of the tracks name. Crown of Sparks introduces itself with fading drones that seemingly die out when losing energy, only to let the next sound texture envelop the ashes, seemingly complementing and extending the dark sentiment. It is a mournful track that continues the themes of unease and uncertainty.

Orbits in Conversation sounds distinctly brighter and hopeful, offering a reprise from the foreboding nature of the previous songs. The sounds swirl in and out of each other in dialogue, a rather appropriate song title here as the listener observes conversation ensuing, accentuated with a deep bass sound entering about halfway through – resolute, contemplative and with direction. Just as you thought you were safe, ghosts wisp around the room like wind through a dark tunnel on Falling Apart II and warble incoherent words to you – I am uncomfortable again, and I like it. Dauer’s perseverance in working with the dark textures on this album is to be commended, and his use of suspense, tension and release at just the right moments is a mark of a true ambient musician.

This release is on Feedback Loop label and available under a creative commons license – you are encouraged to share with everyone you know freely.

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