Razen: Blue Rot LP

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Weightless melancholy drones that almost bend time, recorded using harmonium, recorder, serpent, glass harmonica and cristal Baschet. 'Blue Rot' is mystical, mind-expanding stuff that sits very comfortably alongside meditations from Sarah Davachi, Kara-Lis Coverdale and Kali Malone. If you've got ear fatigue from the onslaught of dusty nostalgic ambient music that's been clogging the fatpipes in recent years, 'Blue Rot' should work like Draino. Instead of using the requisite synth and tape plugin setup, Razen take a more traditional approach to create their drones, looking at the past to chart a course into the future. For 'Blue Rot' they've assembled an ensemble to play a selection of lesser-heard instruments that lend a distinct character and texture to the music that lifts it into a different dimension entirely. The core duo of Brecht Ameel and Kim Delcour play prepared harmonium and monochord, and recorders and reeds respectively. But new band member Berlinde Derman brings along the serpent, an unusual 16th century wind instrument that's an ancestor of the tuba. Guest musician Thomas Bloch adds the final piece of the puzzle, playing glass harmonica - a musical instrument made from glass bowls pioneered by Benjamin Franklin - and cristal Baschet, an organ made from tuned glass rods. The sound that the quartet produces is singular; rooted in contemporary drone - almost sounding electronic  - but the unusual texture of the instruments gives it an unusual, archaic quality. There's always the sense of breath and tonal variation; the sound of glassy resonance or the ancient familiarity of the recorder grounds each composition in real world recognition, while we're quietly transported to another world entirely. "Blue Rot" is deviously well conceived music that challenges expectations and evolves with still, contemplative ease = v, v good.

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