Ambient Bliss: Between Interval’s Secret Observatory

Artist:  Between Interval

Title: Secret Observatory

Released: 2005

Label: Spotted Peccary

Format: CD

Genre: Ambient

Stefan Jonsson’s Between Interval project releases its sophomore effort here with “Secret Observatory.”  This album is definitely a longform piece, with only one track dipping below the fourteen minute mark.  At first glance, many would compare this album to something from Ultimae’s catalog, perhaps something by Carbon Based Lifeforms or Solar Fields.  And as we enter the first track, the lengthy “Garden of the Divine,” I can see why it was given such praise.  The music is deep, dense and somewhat hinting at drone ambient, without being too noisy.

At times, the track branches out into a sort of space ambient feel, reminding me of Sharp / Laswell’s “Visitation” album or even “Drift” by Arthur Dent / Deeper Than Space.  Before long, however, it drifts back into the hazy and lush atmosphere, picking up elements of Namlook and Carbon Based Lifeforms.  Without a doubt, this sounds like it belongs on Hearts of Space.

Without a pause, we enter track two, “Surreptitious Ritual.”  It swooshes and roars loudly, with hushed background synth and I could go on another tangent of the comparisons as I did earlier but I think you get the picture.  Of course, I’m not suggesting that this sounds exactly like that, but the similarities are there to give you a better idea of what this is like.  Again, this is definitely a space ambient track and I’m loving every minute of it.  The depth that synth gives this track is superb and endless; it could easily fit onto a sci-fi film’s score.

A very light choral effect gives this a beautiful, yet haunting edge to it.  It’s a wonder why astrophysics or astronomy documentaries haven’t barrowed this track for their show yet.  As we drift like stardust, we wind up in “Forested Veins.”  Either we’ve landed or we’re orbiting some new lively planet.  Either way, the music takes a while to fade out from the previous track and morph into a newer path.  I’m glad the mixing is seamless but it takes too long to make that transition, and when it comes, this piece still sounds a bit like the last track.  After some time, the synth affects change and some newer and livelier pulses and sounds come into view.  It’s more mechanical than organic, though I’m liking this stuff.    It’s edgy, a little darker and quite captivating.

As we progress along, the track forms layers.  Some acid gurgles form and other sonic effects ride like seagulls on waves, up and down, in and out of view.  Some strings come and go and this track begins to sound like a more drone version of “Lifeforms.”  At this point, it definitely relates to its title and stops resembling a space ambient track.  Still, it’s awesome; no criticisms here.

“Entropy” is our final track.  It fades in gently, closing out the previous piece effortlessly.  Right away, it becomes its own entity, not taking any time to ease into darker drones and synth groans.  There are some odd noises that suggest we’re hearing voices, though none of them are clear (lovely effects and distortions, dude!), giving a very haunting, almost frightening vibe.  The track then fades in from more quiet bits to louder bits, as if we’re catching and then losing sight of light waves from passing starts on our long interstellar voyage.

All in all, this is a fairly solid ambient album.  It’s really thick and hazy, sliding back and forth between space ambient and something resembling a more organic / newly discovered world themed record.  This flip flopping is not bad, I’d like to point out.  It gives this album more depth than others of its kind tend to have.  Some space albums struggle to make a single journey while this one seems to soar through space, find a planet, land on it, look around, then blast back off into the cosmos.  Not often you get that feeling in a single disc.

Should you buy this?  Some might find this album to be slow, unimpressive or redundant.  Others may find this to be lush, diverse (for its kind), and oddly captivating for a drone-ish album.  I like it, honestly.  As I said before, it has depth and the journey actually takes us places.  Fans of Namlook, most of Ultimae’s catalog, Arthur Dent/Deeper Than Space or Mystified might enjoy this.  This album kind of mixes elements that these artists share, so it’s not a far-fetched juxtaposition.  It really does make me excited to see what else this label and its artists, not to mention Between Interval himself, has to offer.

4.6 out of 5.


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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