On record: Johannes Malfatti – Surge (Glacial Movements)



Johannes Malfatti is striking out on his own. Having worked as a member of Ensemble, where he has recorded for One Little Indian and worked with Björk among others, this is his first solo venture.

Surge is a description of slow-moving natural phenomena in sound, an observation that most of these processes in the natural world – glaciers, tectonic plates, icebergs and the like – move incredibly slowly.

What’s the music like?

Surge is a single block of sound and music lasting just under an hour. In keeping with several Glacial Movement releases it feels cold, from the early spray of white noise to the closing fade of the last big chord.

As befits his objective Malfatti makes his music move at an incredibly slow tempo, but as it proceeds it builds up power and a surprising depth of emotion. This happens through a huge block of almost completely static music that slowly progresses into audible rage from around five minutes in and keeps moving.

It is the start of a broadly structured canvas where the music ebbs and flows with progressively more powerful chords. By the end the textures have progressed to an incredibly thick block of sound that the listener can dive into, before the movement slows completely and the music fades away.

Does it all work?

Yes. Best heard on headphones, Surge is a powerful expanse that I found I appreciated more with repeated listening. It slows the brain down while engaging the mind with a vivid picture of deep blues and icy greys (for me at least!), moving from darkness to light and back again.

Writing music this slow is a brave move, but the risk pays handsome dividends here.

Is it recommended?

Very much so  – but make sure you have an hour to enjoy it, as Surge only works in a complete listen.

Ben Hogwood

Listen on Spotify

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