Johannes Malfatti – Surge

malfatti - surge

A surge is a phase of rapid ice flow triggered by changes in conditions at the bed of a glacier. Time between surge events is termed the quiescent phase by glaciologists – an apt inspiration for ambient, minimalist composition. Time is central to Surge. The music is composed of one long piece – 57:39 minutes as declared in large font on the back cover. The piece starts with quiet, layered drones sounding the quiescent phase – and time passes. Just when you are acclimatised to the pace, ominous subglacial drones shake the speakers as the surge, or active phase, arrives. But just like a surging glacier this doesn’t last long and we return to hushed drones, with the emergence of faint melodies. From now on in the contrasting drone themes compete in the mix – ominous low end in the subglacial terrain, melodic drones at the surface. Malfatti’s liner notes describe the music as having “…the viscosity of a slowly moving mass of ice, like a glacier, that contains thousands of layers of snow. The vertical structures of the sonic layers are infinitely complex and ever changing”. The layered drones are aural metaphors for the strata of geological time, or the layers of ice in glaciers. Good ambient drone music helps us perceive the imperceptible, Malfatti’s aim all along “…to evoke a sensation of experiencing a slower, deeper layer of time.”

 

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