Switched On: NETHERWORLD – Vanishing Lands (Glacial Movements)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

There is a powerful message behind Vanishing Lands. The most recent album from Glacial Movements‘ head Alessandro Tedeschi under the guise of NETHERWORLD, it is – in his words – ‘a cry of desperation…the realization that we are one step away from the abyss’.

Whereas many Glacial Movements albums celebrate the vast spaces of our environment, particularly the cold ones, this one does so in a troubling context. During lockdown, Tedeschi committed his thoughts to record on the gradual disappearance of the vast white expanses over which you can see the Northern Lights – ‘ice-covered volcanoes and silent expanses of snow and ice stretching as far as the eye can see;.

What’s the music like?

What’s the music like?

Rather appropriately, Vanishing Lands starts out with what sounds like the tolling of a very distant bell. There is the strong implication of a soft breeze, with shrill treble sounds blowing across the stereo picture of Last Sunset, the album’s first track. Towards the end, pure treble voices calmly coo across the picture, a snapshot taken in the middle of a much longer phrase. This first track runs for a quarter of an hour, serene but darkly coloured and ominous, too.

Thwaites is deeply mysterious, presenting a very intriguing perspective on headphones. The movement is in the middle foreground, like flecks of cloud or interference, while a sonorous mid-range hum at the very back throws the perspective wide open. Then Slow Moving Streams is an intriguing call and answer, whereby a slightly guttural, low synthesizer tone is responded to by a higher, vibrato-rich vocal.

The album’s progression is compelling. The Beauty Of Places Where There Is Nothing To See has an appealing remoteness but there is also a note of sorrow in the far-off cries of electronic birds and mammals. Comet has piercing timbres that streak across the cold surface beneath, before Vanishing Lands enhances the anguish. Initially cool and ambient, it has elements of protest in the voices that rise up, as well as primal pain.

Does it all work?

Yes. Be warned though, as while this is still essentially an ambient album it is a painful one too, an acknowledgement that those big spaces so often celebrated by Glacial Movements are under serious threat. As NETHERWORLD shows us the plight of those spaces, it operates under a very wide dynamic range, with some moments where the music is so quiet that you will have to lean into it.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Vanishing Lands is a brave set of searing observations packed into an album. One of Alessandro Tedeschi’s most intense pieces of work, it is a powerful and wholly meaningful addition to his canon. Make sure you hear it.

Listen & Buy

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