Ambient Dub Review

Eivind Aarset / Jan Bang – Snow Catches on her Eyelashes

Jazzland – Release: 13th March 2020

Aarset and Bang take dubbed-out ambience to new depths, with this subterranean-sounding LP. A unique melding of musique concrète and dub, with echoes of ambience and shoegaze.

There’s a lot to chew on here. Opening with ‘Purplebright’, it could be mistaken for the beginnings of an ambient album, with it’s lush looping and pastoral, sine drones. Things get weird quickly, with the beautifully contrasting ‘Before the Wedding’; piano lines are layered with noise, found sounds and increasingly dubbed fx. This theme of combined instrumentation, sampling/field recordings and dub processing techniques continues throughout the album, with tracks like ‘Outer Sphere’ venturing into almost pure musique concrète territory.

What makes this such a successful experience (in my mind), is it treads that precarious line between experimental/electro-acoustic “studio” music and “traditional” musicianship. Constantly layering Aarset’s unique and highly varied guitar textures, with Bang’s dubwise sound processing and sampling techniques, with seemingly no repetition or any leaning on en vogue audio tricks.

All this, combined with some clearly talented guest musicians, gives an album that works on multiple levels. As both a ‘functional’ ambient album (in the Eno sense of the word), or as a deep listening electroacoustic experience. Recommended.

Pre-order the CD/LP/Digi here