The two instalments of Vibra were stunning examples of Mark Wastell’s ability in controlling and directing the quivering shades of a tam-tam to generate that type of resonance that goes much further than a sheer scientific definition of “vibration”, the listeners totally engulfed in a new perception of themselves as parts of an inexpressible continuity which encompasses every meaningful gesture and insightful reflection, leaving the material characteristics of that particular moment out of the equation. Oceans Of Silver & Blood stretch these concepts to a larger extent, optimizing that majestically soul-enhancing reverberation with a very slight touch of thickness, although appreciable only in spurts. In this duo, Swedish Joachim Nordwall is the collaborative alter ego of the Englishman, the respective voices fused in a single hymn to the depth of silent discernment via an assortment of percussive and electronic nuances.
Recorded at London’s Cafe Oto last year, the performance starts with the audience immediately shutting up – completely – as soon as the musicians appear. The set is sequenced as a chain of dynamic transformations following an arc of sorts. The impact is somewhat substantial at first, physically influential sound waves infused with cyclical tremors eliciting an irresistible unrest forcing us to walk around the room to appreciate the frequencies reacting differently according to the spot. In the central phase (my overall favourite) we’re gently kissed by the luminosity of softly murmuring hues, the overtones depicting a fragile yet long-lasting echoing which, barring chemical aids, is able to cause the brain to rewind the tape of memory and reliving sensations from the past without actually individuating the details or a precise temporal location. One realizes of having been there before, but I’ll be damned if someone manages to put the finger on how this mechanism works not including the pathetic from-the-manual technicalities utilized by the average psychologist. Still, this is the kind of feeling people might wish when the transition from flesh to ash will finally occur.
Once lulled to rational stupor, the gong’s choral rumble and a swarm of reasonably coarse emissions take centre stage, addressing the sonic organism towards the zone where pulsating awareness and unsympathetically buzzing impediments conduct matching existences, each trying to assert an influence on the psyche. It’s this contiguity that defines the peculiar melange of sweet and sour that the final part of the exhibition holds as a not-so-pleasing surprise. If an embrace is what you’re looking for, this is the wrong place to be in. There’s always a chimera awaiting for annihilation somewhere; Wastell and Nordwall look intentioned to rule out exceptions, even if they keep listening suggestions from the higher spheres of acuity.
In the closing three minutes the artists let the acoustic mass stabilize until a blurred drone remains alone, its audibility gradually decreasing as we near the end. The unvoiced, transfixed spectators ultimately liberate the energies in a polite, if convinced – and deserved – applause. The ideal conclusion for another perfect release by this not overly prolific, tremendously consistent label.