Echoes, textures and the subtle hint of melody; the ambient music formula is rarely relevant. With 'Ballet Mechanic' Pleq wins against the odds.
Contemporary ambient music has no place in a revolutionary society. It is the inward facing territory of the emotionally undeveloped and socially moribund. These self-involved merchants of their own ego rarely do anything much outside making vaguely interesting background noise. Ambient ‘music’ in many cases isn’t a great improvement over background noise, in fact the only real difference is that background noise has more variation.
vistas of shanty sound, oceans of sardonic static, cumulus Glaswegian melodies, glacial hand jobs
The ‘music’ in contemporary ambient music is largely down to repetition and structure; tonal variation or melody is seen as less than a consideration and more of an infernal compromise, bordering on cardinal sin. However for all it’s prog-like intellectual excess, split second sub-genre definition, beard stroking, man-boob developing, girl-boob retardant properties some of it is actually pretty good. Some of it is even worth paying money for.
Like Blues, Ambient music has become less about invention as it is about someone mastering the existing forms enough to allow expression.
Pleq is the non-de-plume of prolific Polish philosophy student Bartosz Dziadosz. Over the last few years he has released record after record of quite interesting ambient and drone. So far, he’s managing around two to three albums per year and musically he has brought in elements of modern classical as well as other outsider styles such as 60s avant garde into the standard palette of ambient clicks, hums and pads. He's good.
While his other records are pretty much exercises in genre there is something special about Ballet Mechanic. Dziadosz describes the record on a personal note as being;
Thanks to Paula Dzwigała for all her support and perseverant motivation. It is you. Paula. Who were the inspiration for making this record. You come up with the idea of the track "Ballet Mechanic" and with it came the realization of this album. It is the most personal, abstract and intellectual work by Pleq to date. "Ballet Mechanic" is never to be repeated.
Outside of Pleq’s own personal considerations Ballet Mechanic is a sweeping record of moving restraint. It seems strange that something as sparse and desolate as this would be dedicated to someone close to him but the vicissitudes of the heart are complex. It would be standard here to describe the record in a various pastoral terms; vistas of shanty sound, oceans of sardonic static, cumulus Glaswegian melodies, glacial hand jobs etc. However these are really impressionistic shortcuts to actually discussing musical properties.
It seems strange that something as sparse and desolate as this would be dedicated to someone close to him
So, at the business end of the review; Ballet Mechanic isn’t particularly original but it is quite good. Like Blues, Ambient music has become less about invention as it is about someone mastering the existing forms enough to allow expression.
The mark of a great Ambient album is textural mood; success being measured how it makes you feel. It’s like wine tasting, on some level wine tastes like wine, on another there are variations, notes and phrases that create interesting sensations with their subtlety and admixture. With such a metaphor ensconced, Ballet Mechanic uses a variety of drones that seem like stretched WAVs of a pleasing major scale melody. Interspersed with ‘haunting’ piano motifs and pulsing waves of static there isn’t a lot here that Brian Eno didn’t achieve with vigour on Ambient 1: Music For Airports, however Pleq manages to convey a personal presence on this recording that captivates and engrosses. You don’t have to search for points of engagement, they find you and on this basis Ballet Mechanic is a solid accomplishment by a man at ease with his craft and nearing a signature voice.