Switched On – Amphior: Another Presence (Glacial Movements)

amphior

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This was made during the first Covid lockdown, described by its author as ‘a strange vacuum of feeling lonely and isolated’. However Amphior – aka Mathias Hammerstrøm – emerged from the period with a positive outcome, connecting with himself as a person and addressing some long-held feelings on introversion and sensitivity. Another Presence allowed him to express those feelings and be more himself in the process.

What’s the music like?

Haunting. It is possible to hear what sound like disembodied voices in many of these tracks, and though they are not noticeably lyric-based there is a primeval vocal quality to a lot of Amphior’s writing.

Void, the first track, has wisps of sound in the middle ground, some of them vocal, above a distorted and cracked profile underfoot, like standing on a large geological feature in a cold wind. The voices become more ominous in the course of the second track Phantasm, as does the darker musical language. After these two heavier pieces of music, Imaginary Shelter is just what’s needed, a comforting wash of sound and soothing harmonies. Dream Traveler offers the same welcoming cushion, though is consciously on the move, with that sounds like slow footsteps in the snow. The slow walking continues, with gradually changing vistas, as Sleepwalker takes in a range of colours both dark and light, before Pathfinder pans right out again. The warm colours of Another Presence find Amphior returning to a settled harmonic base, from which What Was Lost offers thick ambience if a hint of unresolved conflict, before ultimately fading away on the wind.

Does it all work?

Yes. Through the eight tracks here Amphior captures both the claustrophobia and strange, twisted freedom lockdown seemed to offer in equal measure, the qualities complementing each other while never becoming fully satisfying. Here the music is ultimately satisfying, finding its resolution from darker thoughts and feelings earlier on.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Another Presence is an affecting and occasionally disquieting listen, moving at a very slow pace as it examines feelings and experiences held deep beneath the surface. Ultimately those examinations bring forward a positive and deeper calm, the listener able to appreciate the long form ambience of this extremely descriptive album.

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