Various - SMM: Opiate LP
Label: Ghostly International
A pretty fucking choice compilation of wintery dronemuzik, post-classical bleariness and somber variations on the pop ambient theme divided equally between the heavy hitters and the newcomers. Slowdive drummer Simon Scott opens the album with a blissful shimmer of amorphous shoegazing blur'n'drone pocked with echoing synth tones twinkling like satellites glinting the suns rays back to earth. A Winged Victory For The Sullen (one of the projects that blossomed from the ashes of Stars Of The Lid) twinkles a series of heart-wrenching piano motifs laced with stringed orchestrations all bathed in a beautifully maudlin atmosphere. The lugubrious melodies from Black Swan reprise those hauntological strategies of Leyland Kirby's recontextualized 78s with equally emotive results. When it comes Jim Haynes' track, he quipped that he tried to make something pretty but the colors of the rest of the album rendered his track much more ominous than anticipated. A stealth mode piece of shortwave drone, billowing noise and scabrous textures, considerably darker than anything else on the compilation, but it's certainly a top shelf slab of isolationist griminess. Immediately following is En, who open their track with a bright strum across a koto, those plucked tones become the painterly gestures of a wintery landscape as seen from the comforts of a stone farmhouse surround by snow and frost. The Swedish outfit Pjusk slows down a monophunk bassline to an undanceably slow torpor, suspending deep-space ambient transmission pulses for a track that does remind us of the bleak atmospheres found on that fantastic Raime album Blackest Ever Black released in 2012. Noveller's take on the Durutti Column's guitar impressionism is a beautiful way to end this exceptional album. There is a very clear narrative arc that Ghostly International has scripted through these tracks, one that is evocative of the many moods of late autumn and early winter with grey skies and sheets of bone-chilling rain giving way to clear sky nights for winter solstice dreams.