Hypnotic? Delta guitar driven purges by ascending maestro.
The term 'hypnotic' is one that is bandied about far too often in music reviews, a kind of catch-all term for any number of disparate musical forms that might otherwise be described in terms that are more long-winded, latinate and pretentious-sounding. Rarely, though is it ever applied in an entirely accurate sense. Fortunately, Talvihorros, aka young British guitarist, composer and pedal-monster Ben Chatwin, has released a work that can only be described as, well, hypnotic.
'Descent Into Delta' is a stunning work of droning, ambient beauty. Pieced together from live jams, Chatwin has assembled a series of movements designed to represent the change in mental wave frequency between the states of awakeness and sleep. Each track oscillates with deep, subsonic reverberations as the album progresses from 'Gamma', representing the mind at full lucidity, to 'Delta', signifying deep sleep.
This isn't simply mood music. Instead, it appeals directly to the subconscious. Nor is it post-rock, or post-anything, dealing instead with an inherent force present from the dawn of humanity. Pretty heavy going, you'd imagine. On the contrary, the album resonates with melodious warmth and an ever increasing sense of bliss, much as, you'd imagine, was its author's intent. The music within primarily revolves around Chatwin’s multilayered, probing guitar playing, with splashes of muted colour added by subtle synths.
Though divided into tracks ('songs' definitely isn't the word) Descent Into Delta progresses more like movements of a suite, morphing fluidly into one another. This is not to say, however, that each part does not possess its own unique feel and essence. That would appear to be the key to Talvihorros. With an average album, the character of different tracks would be defined according to lyrics and melody. If it’s wall-to-wall tunes you’re looking for, though, you're in the wrong place. This is no criticism- what Chatwin has done is truly pioneering, dispensing with all conventions of music-making to explore alternative means of eliciting emotive responses from the listener. In this sense, he has been totally successful.
The album begins at 'Gamma'. At first, it resembles little more than a maelstrom of effervescent, if portentous, sound. As with every track here, there is no rhythm, just an all-pervasive pulse. Slowly, the faintest ghost of a melody passes beneath, never fully revealing itself, before emerging, fully realised, in 'Beta'. A chiming guitar line of otherworldly prettiness circles around, eddying and intertwining with deep swells of harmonious noise, as wave upon wave washes in, filling the air with something that suggests mounting turmoil, but restrains itself just before the brink, subsiding into an eerie calm.
It's simultaneously chilling and enchanting, a proper shiver-up-your-spine moment, though it's difficult to understand exactly why. Under this enigmatic miasma, the album progresses organically into 'Alpha', a gently gliding tsunami of sound that washes over you softly. A heavily-sedated three-note bassline provides a powerful undertow, as indistinct figures float and flutter somewhere high above. In the space between, gorgeous harmonic murmurings gather themselves together, until they form a haunting chorus of spirits.
The more 'Descent Into Delta' unfolds, the less sure you become as to what you're experiencing, whether the feeling is heavy or light, high or low, maudlin or jubilant. 'Theta' muddies the waters yet further, leaving you trapped between its subsonic, echoing depths and an onslaught of skittish guitar reverberations, making it impossible to comprehend whether it's reaching a peak or slipping into a trough, only eventually concluding itself by spiralling down into unfathomable depths.
Though the album begins at a heightened level of intensity, it would be hard to judge whether it abates or intensifies, instead metamorphosing with each track. The closing ‘Delta’ exemplifies this, inhabiting a space that is more tranquil than the album’s beginning, yet somehow more all-consuming and forceful. It swirls enigmatically into life, at first seeming dolorous, taking a full two-and-a-half minutes before the repeated, two-chord synthetic hum is joined by a twinkling guitar. The emotional impression it gives is one of floating, as it rises upward through the addition of different sounds, and increasing in volume until it reaches a higher plateau. The background reverberation is a languorous ebb, enforced by a woozy, unreal-sounding viola. Not much else really happens, but there’s no need for it to, as both track and album reach the otherwordly, blissfully detached resolution they have been heading towards.
Needless to say, there aren’t many musicians out there who could make an album of this ilk. Talvihorros explores the outer limits of music, experimenting with elements that transcend the basic sounds themselves, and worming into your subconscious in a way that catches you completely off guard. ‘Descent Into Delta’ is music for the parts of your mind you didn’t even know existed.
‘Descent Into Delta’ is out now on Hibernate records
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle