Instant Movie Combinations – For the Travellers Sadly Walking in Ever Mist

15/03/2009 § Leave a comment

Artist: Instant Movie Combinations
Title: For the Travellers Sadly Walking in Ever Mist
Label: Cold Graey
Genre: Dark Ambient

Track Listing:

01 Moon, Sea and Shipwreck
02 Jungle Book
03 Canoe
04 The Master’s Pipe
05 Catalepsy n1

Cold Graey seem to be having bad luck with their website, don’t they. There I was, about to infiltrate their Aladdin’s Cave of information regarding this release, but the bloody thing’s gone offline again. And it really would be useful to have some information on this album because the promo doesn’t say much at all. “For the Travellers Sadly Walking in Ever Mist” is not so much an album of music or even an album of drones: it’s one long, drawn-out whirr. It’s so inconsequential – even as a piece of ambient – that I think someone should have a word in the ear of Cold Graey and tell them there’s been a disastrous error down at the recording studios: instead of recording a lush, tranquil hour’s worth of dark ambient homilies, IMC have mistakenly recorded the murmur of their dying fridge, leaving listeners and reviewers at a loss to say something poignant about it.

The packaging comes in two parts: the CD digipak itself and a separate set of photos, presumably of the musical creators. I say ‘presumably’ since it’s hard to make out anything about the pictures at all. Three blurs on a piece of photographic paper don’t give much away, though the first has eyes so I imagine there’s a person attached to them somewhere. The visual theme of the digipak resolves around buried treasure, opening outwards to display three original paintings depicting the first three tracks. Underneath the central flap is a piece of parchment with the names of tracks 4 and 5 on it and the note that these are “not for use with the main part of the album”. Apart from a nod to the artist [‘Eisstelle’, apparently] there are no further credits. No legal notes, no thank yous, no band information. Maybe IMC didn’t want Eisstelle to be named either in the interests of artistic enigma, but she threatened to pull her work from the album. I imagine that’s how it went.

The first track, “Moon, Sea and Shipwreck”, begins with a single, sustained chord on a synthesiser. And then continues. And continues. For the whole seven minutes of its duration. Then “Jungle Book” kicks in, which is nothing but a light, throbbing drone pulsing for another seven minutes, followed by “Canoe”, another drawn out chord for a further seven minutes of ambient dreariness. If it sounds like I’m missing something here, I’m not. It’s so piecemeal in its content that it doesn’t even classify as minimal ambient. It’s nothing but the sound of a humming turbine, an electric fire on high setting, or a suicide victim dying on their car horn. Thankfully, if you play the first three tracks simultaneously it sounds like an orchestra tuning up, so at least you get more than one note at the same time.

You’ll have noticed by now that the track titles have absolutely nothing to do with the song content, but wait, there’s more to come. “The Master’s Pipe” is a full twenty minutes of monotone buzzing as if someone’s left the phone off the hook or a food mixer churning away in the background. There is no variety, no depth and no doubting its inescapable mundanity. However, you could play it on loud to attract stray cats or put a blindfold on and pretend you’re in a submarine. IMC have been so generous as to give you – their valued listener – total interpretative freedom so you can attach absolutely any meaning to their ‘music’. They may as well go one further and make their next album five tracks of silence.

“For the Travellers Sadly Walking in Ever Mist” closes with “Catalepsy n1”, a further twenty minutes of humming before the hour’s adventure comes to an abrupt close. Yes, it may have been 63 minutes of musical nothingness, but is it any good? There’s no doubt that the album is relaxing but only inasmuch as it’s difficult to feel anything about it at all. It’s so uneventful and free from meaning that it manages to venture beyond boring and into a realm of near non-existence. I’m slightly impressed that any band could put out an album like this, and though it is almost comforting to know that what you’re listening to is so thoroughly undemanding on you as a listener, no consolation can be given to the artist for having any degree of skill or imagination to put this across. It’s not Derek Jarman’s Blue in musical form. It’s not a Miro painting translated to soundwaves. It’s an hour of vacuous, wispy buzzing, and if the music feels this little about itself, who are we to dissent.


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