TOWERS’ craft a sublime album that grieves in the immediacy of unknown futures.
Suspended in midair the city below begins to fall away. It’s unclear what exactly the town used to be – the blocks of apartments signify a residential urban centre, but there are no people, no windows, no paint on the walls. There’s the quiet hum of an industrial estate waking up, but no trucks move along roads that, upon closer inspection, are merely painted canals. Impossibilities begin to rack up and balance precariously in the lobes of the brain; everything here is a dream, but why should that mean it’s any less real?
TOWERS is a duo composed of musicians ImCoPav and Enylobe, but frankly the music of their self titled LP is so deeply engrossing that it’s hard to imagine a human presence behind it. The album is immediately involving, and within minutes the artificiality of the soundscape ceases to dent the experience. Though warped by design the ear welcomes these noises as natural, as if to invite a poltergeist into the mind. What results is close in feeling to a possession, as the ideas used in music to exert control – tempo, melody, lyrics – are (generally) thrown out in favour of pure ambience. The audience is relinquished of their duty as an active participant in the music; accepting defeat is a requirement for entry, but “TOWERS” does not gloat in victory, for it too is grieving something unperceivable. Simultaneously, there’s relief in this lack of responsibility. Long passages of synthesiser drones induce a meditative state, inviting listeners to release physical and mental tension. The album never goes so far as to threaten the listener. Instead, “TOWERS” offers the comfort of a perfect stranger, presenting no obligation to interact but also a blank slate onto which listeners can project their own ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
In his review, Pad Chennington recalls that “TOWERS” was left for “2-3 years” before it found its way to release. The devastating coldness of the track “TOWERS II” tells the story of this isolation, whereas “TOWERS I”, a crippling haze infested with processed alarms and screams, lets the anger of abandonment pour out like poisoned water. “TOWERS III” pushes into the calmness that follows moments of such great passion. Musically, the track is extremely liminal, with a theme of transition. The alien reverberations that follow the opening drone don’t find any sort of groove, they are experimental phrases that hint at presences just out of earshot. Whereas the other three tracks of “TOWERS”, especially “TOWERS II”, can be seen as equations, with ideas that funnel into an outcome, “TOWERS III” is decidedly an expression, a unit completed by its lack of answers.
“TOWERS IV” carries with it the sadness of day to day minutiae, as well as a brooding sense of finality, which is impressive for a work that prides itself on being so formless. The song divides cleanly into sections – the first is an obituary to the real world, represented by a guitar sample, the only recognisably analogue sound on the album. This section passes by the listener as a passerby does on the nighttime pavement, and as the pair brush past one another the sparks of anxiety and loneliness offer just a little warmth. Following this is another drone, joined by a metallic jangle in the background that offers a semblance of rhythm. In a way, mourning begins as the subconscious recognises the finite nature of this realm. In its final moments “TOWERS” refuses to repackage the world for the listener – it offers refuge, but is not a work that challenges its surroundings. Its service as a hiding place is equally valid as the capitalist pantomime of conventional vapour music, and in this service subtle criticisms of desolate, stressful, exhausting city life become apparent. The title is itself evocative of urbanisation; towers are a universal norm in human settlements.
ImCoPav and Enylobe engrave a testament to concept with this record. Ambient music presents temptation to add more layers and effects, to flesh out the sound, to be more whole. “TOWERS” is not stripped back, rather it was made to be sparse. Even the most subdued passages of a t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 album seem lively against these vantablack tones. This album eludes comparison. It escapes the groove of ImCoPav’s solo work and the harmony of Enylobe’s. “TOWERS” makes no demands but monopolises attention. It carries emotional knowledge in spades but makes no promises. It is the friend one makes out of desperation.
Listen to “TOWERS” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)