I’m wearing out my ambient descriptors… this year has just been so incredibly consistent and unrelenting within this style of music, I just don’t know how many more times I can use the word “swathe” or “drone.” In fact, I think I’ve actually listened to and reviewed so much ambient music, I’ve maybe fallen into the trap of losing sight of its function: Have a quiet moment. Allow the music to fill that quiet. Allow the music to take you somewhere. Relax. Focus your mind. Have a sip of coffee. Close your eyes. Breathe…
As a matter of turn, the young Polish composer Szymon Kaliski has done a lot of this work for you up front. The cover on the record shows a single cup of Joe and an unlit cigarette, just waiting for you to have a session with its humbling beauty. Kaliski weaves together wavering, breathing long tones with subtly plunked piano keys into seven steadied, tempered, and patient works that remain short enough to resist trying your own patience. In fact, sometimes the pieces don’t feel long enough as the mix is quickly stifled with not-so-subtle turns of the volume knob, almost showing Kaliski’s cards. But the substance between the opening moments of each track and their final evaporations ebbs and flows very nicely, thrumming with gentle volume and stereo shifts to give your brain a relaxing massage. And Kaliski’s approach to form is refreshing, too—a track like “In Twelve Scenes” comes as an especially unique treat with a plucked string that measures the piece out among spoken world samples that sound lifted from an old film, almost aggressively emphasizing the notion of time that many ambient artists purposefully disguise or negate.
The entire album is laced with small micro-pops that can have the undesired effect of distracting you from the listening space Kaliski’s worked so diligently to present. I’m not sure if this was intentionally done as part of his own method, or if it’s a limitation of the material conditions of creating the music. On the one hand, it gives the music a cracked quality, drying the sound out as smoldering charcoals at the base of a bonfire. On the other hand, I desperately want the music as a whole to be as smooth, wet and lush as the gorgeous tones beneath it all. Still, Kaliski’s got exactly the right ideas here, letting representations of memories come out fractured and broken, and his well-rounded style definitely places him among some of the genre’s heaviest hitters. “As Unimportant” is a near dead-ringer for Tim Hecker‘s earlier material, conjuring a wealth of varied electronically generated tones and working them into breath-taking swoops that travel by like wind atop a high green pasture. And the piano strokes, that really stick out like a sore thumb (in a great way, by the way), keep the music grounded and accessible. Not much is known about this young fellow yet, but you can check out this and more by visiting his Soundcloud page, and it appears the record is readily available. If Out of Forgetting tells us anything, it’s that Kaliski’s on the brink of making a serious name for himself in the rapidly growing world of ambient composers.