A very kind review by the prolific wordsmith of ambient music, Richard Gürtler.
The sole protagonist behind Neu Gestalt, in Edinburgh, Scotland based ambient downtempo sound wizard Les Scott has released his 3rd album “Inside The Rain Chamber” on domiciliar, Paul Croan’s label Alex Tronic Records, just like his previous two albums “Altered Carbon” (2008) and “Weightless Hours” (2012). Out since December 5th, 2014, and packaged in catchy 6-panel digipak designed by Neu[e] (aka Les Scott) with additional front cover and disc photographs by Natashah Azim. The mastering duties were handled, as usual, by Paul Croan.
Known for his quite unconventional high-tech sculpting alchemy, Les Scott again brings to his listeners a truly energetic, crystalline polished synthesis of pulses, glitches, break-ups, voice-like fragments (evoking Japanese words) and haunting melodies with nostalgic reminiscences. Comprised of 12 tracks, mostly clocking between 4 and 5 minutes, the album opens with “Voyager” that immediately sets the feel for the upcoming 52-minute trip. Hissy reflections, cyber-tech rhythms, broken Japanese female wordless fragrances, all texturally rich, strongly polished and uniquely interwoven. Slightly lazier, downtempos dominate “Sagarmatha Before Falling”, yet abundantly undulating with attractive piano-like evocations. “Capsule” again focuses more on voice-like fragments, which are juxtaposed with sharper, synthetic pulses and swirls. A truly magnetic mixture. And that’s the case of the following piece too, “Luminance”. Based on bouncing rhythms, amply flavored with assorted glitches and hisses. The next piece, “Landing Lights”, precisely bridges slightly distorted beats, enchanting backgrounds, although rather scattered and female voice scraps, this time sounding almost earthy. “Islands” shift straightly into soothingly poignant terrains, gorgeously organic and cinematically embracing. Very refreshing!!! “Neon East” quickly returns into ear-tickling passages, hypnotically whirling with occasional piano wistfulness sneaking in. Slower tempos on “Hidden Leaves” are hauntingly melted with signature voice fragments and distortive outbursting subtleties. “Tokyo Tipping Point” is strangely fragmented and nuanced, yet surprisingly enchanting and euphonious. “Twilight Of Tears” is fragile, hazy, enigmatic, exotic, dubby… Definitely one of the highlights on this ride. “A Year Without Sun” shifts into a deep cyber-biotic realms while the closing “Weightlessness” mesmerizes the listeners with its delicately pulsing, blipping and tinkling texture.
Musically and aurally again a very strong and distinguishing work by this Scotsman, but that’s quite obvious for Neu Gestalt since “Altered Carbon” and “Weightless Hours” albums. Regarding to this, I should also mention that the main sound source used on this recording are two shakuhachi flutes, but these sounds have underwent lots of processing, so I wouldn’t recognize them without seeing them among used instruments or mentioned them in the creative process of carving the album. Although I might prefer more variability this time, even if all details are enough diversified in each track, to me, the overall feel is a bit repetitive throughout. Few extra hooks in the vein of brilliant “Twilight Of Tears”, “Islands” or “Sagarmatha Before Falling” would certainly more reinvigorate the album on the long run. Maybe it’s the case of generated vocal sounds, maybe I would appreciate more drifting glimpses across. Nevertheless, “Inside The Rain Chamber” album is a must-have for each connoisseur of peculiarly crafted downtempo cybertronica!!!
Ambient music isn’t for everyone. It’s too easy to dismiss its spa connotations as the background soundtrack to a day’s relaxation. That’s not the purpose of Edinburgh-based Les Scott’s release under the Neu Gestalt moniker, however. There’s too much detailed thought and artistry here, too many elements designed to engage the attention rather than dampen it down, for Inside The Rain Chamber to slip to the back of the listener’s consciousness. That said, there’s not a lot of structural distinction between the tracks and their component parts, and very little harmonic depth, with almost everything placed high up in the treble end of the aural spectrum. The album might prove too brittle for certain ears but listen, then listen again: the precision of Scott’s construction soon becomes apparent, individual beats sound like gravel crunching, like vinyl crackling, like bike gears free-wheeling, but the processed shakuhachi and slivers of Oriental vocals – glimpsed like fragments down a hall of mirrors – add a welcome human element.
‘Capsule’ is track of the month for December in The Scotsman newspaper’s Under The Radar music section.
The very many sounds on ‘Inside The Rain Chamber’ were processed and reprocessed over a two and half year period and the album was produced on an Atari ST, now around 28 years old. I use this set-up primarily to avoid all the distracting decisions that plug-ins bring with them on more elaborate DAWs and to focus more time on the music itself. I like to use extensive filtering on my Akais to give my sounds greater texture, though they are often already processed at length before they reach the Akai filters. I do this as part of often very elaborate attempts to try to give what I do a distinct sound, well away from the brittle, plastic clarity that can quite often, to my ears at least, be a feature of a plug-in set-up. The sounds that, if any, I use most regularly on ‘Inside The Rain Chamber’ begin life with my two shakuhachi (Japanese end-blown wooden flutes)(top right). I process them until they become fairly synth-like, but the reason I use them as a sound source is to try to introduce and retain a dominant organic, textural element to the music.
Les Scott December 2014
Inside The Rain Chamber is now released…
Inside The Rain Chamber
“It is the kind of music which paints pictures in your head as you listen to it. Memories past or present will drift across the insides of your eyelids as the whole sound slowly swallows you.”
Full review here