Michael Santos – Memory Maker
Cat.No: home n016
Release date: April 16nd, 2010
Edition number: 1000 (digipack)
Michael Santos is a London-based artist who has previously released on U-Cover, Benbecula and the excellent French label, Baskaru. I received the album just as I was about to go out into the Tokyo night for a bit of a photography session, and by this point was on my sixth demo of the day. I wasn’t in any great mood to listen to anything much by this point, I thought I’d give it a few days before paying attention to it. Well, turns out that just before I went out that night, I whacked it onto my ipod anyway, later realising that I had actually deleted everything else on there and was only left with the unmastered version of what was to become ‘Memory Maker’.
It’s a good thing too. As I was wandering around the neon-lit streets of Ikebukuro, the music felt like something of a revelation. The use of static and white-noise elements within drone works is nothing new, yet what struck me was his ability to integrate static and noise under the skin of these deeply melodic tones, imbuing the structures with far more depth than I am used to in the genre. Static is such a strong element in his work, The Wire no less, even described listening to Michael’s music as ‘being drunk in a beehive’. I suppose it’s not a bad assessment, so long as you are a very happy, blissful drunk and not too afraid of bees.
Yet apart from the sheer depth of the work of course, is the fact that through simple guitar and sine wave generation, ‘Memory Maker’ carves out something that is at once micro-elemental and yet really quite grandiose. From the first slow clicks that open the album with Alphaville, to the giant crescendo of Slowdance, ending with the beautiful thinly crusted melodies of Hollowing Out, it’s quite some journey. It’s about as beautiful and intelligently made ambient music as you are likely to find, a kind of urban soundtrack if you will. It’s work that certainly accentuated that nightly walk, and continues to be my Tokyo soundtrack today.
Mastered by Jack Marchment
Photography by Ian Hawgood
2. Cut Them Loose
3. Magenta Dayline
4. Let Go
7. Hollowing Out
A good minute passes before a conventionally melodic sound is heard amidst the percussive pops and surges that initiate Memory Maker’s opening piece “Alphaville”—a small detail but not an insignificant one as it points to a defining characteristic of Michael Santos’s stylistic identity: the ‘white noise’ that cloaks every one of the recording’s seven settings—static, tears, ripples, smears, et al.—is as integral to his sound as are the melodic elements. The London-based Santos, whose work has previously appeared on U-Cover, Benbecula, and Baskaru, might use little more than guitar and sine waves as sound-generating elements for the material, but what results is anything but minimal. The turbulent “Cut Them Loose” writhes for over ten minutes like some sleeping colossus wracked by nightmares—until a ray of light appears eight minutes in to shoo away the goblins. The other long track, “Slowdance,” swells slowly, its glistens, rumbles, and wobbles growing ever more fiery as the behemoth advances towards its immense crescendo. Not everything’s so intense, however, as the dream-like swirl of “Let Go,” for instance, makes clear. The tremolo shudder of the electric guitar is clearly audible during the tranquil “Magenta Dayline” but as often as not Santos obscures the material’s natural sounds through the liberal application of production treatments (e.g., the gaseous fireworks that make up “Hollowing Out”). Listeners with a jones for deeply textured ambient soundscaping should definitely take a swim in these waters.
Boomkat – Album of the Week
Currently pumping out releases at an enviable and prodigious rate, Home Normal are threatening to overload us with ambience – if that’s not too much a contradiction in terms. Thankfully, Ian Hawgood’s imprint continues to maintain its high standards with this new outing from London-based artist Michael Santos, whose name you may recognise from works for such fine purveyors of electronica as Benbecula, U-Cover and Baskaru. One of the first things to strike you about Memory maker is the unusually physical presence it has: ‘Alphaville’ for starters feels like a gust of hot air, full of blustery drones and tactile crackles – it’s a great way of announcing yourself. From here onwards you might notice a counterpoint between the album’s all-round mellifluousness and the recurrence of a kind of intensive, buzzing belligerence that recalls the aesthetics of certainRaster Noton records, or the more stringent moments in Steinbruchel’s catalogue. One or two shorter pieces lodged into the album’s centre offer an oasis of out-and-out loveliness, with the natural harmonic plucks and floating tones of ‘Magenta Dayline’ sounding sufficiently blissful and summery to have hayfever sufferers sneezing with delight. ‘Slowdance’ and the exquisite ‘Hollowing Out’ represent two late, long-form highlights, purveying yet more needling and pristine digital timbres once again striking up that deftly ambiguous balance between absolute ornamental loveliness and intrepid sonic experimentation.
Norman Records – Recommendation
Another week, another pleasurable excursion into the soporific world of quality drone courtesy of label du jour Home Normal. Ever since the Celer CD blew my tits off ages ago, i’ve been keeping a beady eye on deliveries in case another installment lands. This particular baby involves a passages of static rustle & dog-friendly frequencies amongst the glacial waves of ambience & tranquil shimmering. Like many releases of this ilk , they need to be heard & understood by intelligent, sympathetic ears, not half explained to you by some fat Northerner who’s just eaten a load of Banoffee Pie whilst tackling the debilitating remnants of a hangover.
P*Dis / Inpartmaint
benbeculaやu-coverのCD-Rレーベルからのリリースしているロンドン在住のサウンド・アーティストmichael santosが、 baskaruからの1st『the happy error』以来、約2年ぶりとなる2ndアルバムをhome normalよりリリース。繊細な電子音のレイヤーを巧く配置した持ち前の淡く切ないアンビエント・サウンドはそのままに、ミニマルながらも壮大で、より 深みを増した美しいドローン作品に仕上がっています。