Drift

Artist: Arthur Dent and Deeper Than Space

Title: Drift

Released: 1995

Label: Flask

Format: CD

Genre: ambient, drone, space ambient

Written and performed by a chap named Adam Douglas…  Ah, it all makes sense now. With a name so close to world famous author Douglas Adams, I’m not surprised this project is in reference to his book, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.”  In fact, Arthur Dent was its main character. It certainly made me wonder how this album would sound since it almost seemed like it was in tribute to one of the many writers for Doctor Who.  Would this be a deep space adventure or a snore?

Well, at first glance, this is a longform album, much in the fashion of many ambient pieces from its day.  Namlook, FSOL, Biosphere, Laswell and others all have used this formula and have used it well.  Though, there are many off-the-radar artists and releases that have followed this design as well.   Either they’re great, fantastic or dull; it is hard to figure out what you’re getting before you buy it.  I was toying with the idea of getting this album to see for myself but it surprisingly showed up as a gift over the holiday… so….

We open with the first of two tracks, “”Ur.”  It’s atmospheric, deep and haunting.  Douglas seems right at home here within the boundaries of his Deeper Than Space project; it hints at his earlier “Earthrise” album.  But this is a far cry from his earlier acid techno days as 303 Terrorists and Gundam.  Not that that’s a bad thing, obviously.  And while this track clocks in at over twelve minutes, it seems to end before you really notice; it never really progress all that much.  Again, this was typical of space ambient at the time and really isn’t that bad.  It is certainly a cosmic journey and I can see how it has shaped many a modern ambient mavens’ work.

Our final track is “Drift,” and it is a long, nearly forty minute ride.  Right away, I can see why a lot of folks hail this as an early drone masterpiece.   We start off with sounds akin to ocean waves but something more like the ebb of a deep space engine the gets warmer and layered with a very slight hint of melody.  The hums and groans seem to get louder in spots, as if we’re walking through a dimly lit spaceship set on a several year long voyage, hearing the sounds of its systems running in some sort of mechanical harmony.  And as we mosey along this rather long walk, we find occasional new hums at various, yet harmonious frequencies.  This continues for quite some time with the rare electronic swoosh or bleep.  A few minutes prior to the end, we get a light bass riff but that fades out as the song finally draws to a close with a last few mechanical groans.

Should you but this?  As the term, “space ambient” suggests, this is a very slow, mellow, minimal and droned out release.  This not your typical FSOL or Boards of Canada album with defined songs that keep you tapping your toes but rather, this is a solid work in longform, much like Namlook and other Fax releases.  By no means is this a criticism, though.  If you’re looking for something to surf gently through the universe with, this is a good release to grab.  If you’re looking for something lively that will keep you awake, this is not for you at all.  I have to say that this sounds surprisingly modern for 1995 with little to no dated sounds.  That said, this release stood the test of time thus far.

4.6 out of 5.

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About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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