Below Sea Level Below Sea Level


Simon Scott Simon ScottBelow Sea Level

7.9 / 10

Simon Scott’s work is closely linked to water, and, more specifically, to the sea. It’s not only that in his early years as a musician he formed a part of the best version of Slowdive, a group that not only was at the forefront of early 90s shoegaze - along with Ride and My Bloody Valentine - and whose very name included the idea of submerging and losing oneself in a liquid immensity, which was how the guitars sounded, cascades of freefalling sound. It’s also that in his latest albums, signed under his own name and clearly in synch with the current ambient generation walking the line between the digital and the acoustic, both the titles of the albums and of the pieces inside them clearly allude to coasts and oceans. The first was titled “Navigare” (Miasmah, 2009), which also implied an idea of adventure, and the second one, “Silenne” (Slaapwel Records, 2010). On the EP “Traba” (Immune, 2010) there were cuts like “She Came From The Sea” and “The Water Loop”, and in the fantastic “Bunny” (Miasmah, 2011) everything started with “AC Waters”. Now that Scott is coming into the 12K family under the Taylor Deupree umbrella, the constants remain the same: he’s gone from coasts and navigation to immersion—something evident in a title like “Below Sea Level”– and each of the cuts is a variation on the same theme of going down and coming up, skimming the surface of the sea, but always underneath it. If water and the ocean have always been present in Simon Scott’s work, in this latest title, the presence is constant, occupying everything, leaving no space for anything else.

Why the sea? He says that this is due to having lived a large part of his life in coastal areas, specifically that known as the East Anglian Fens, a marsh on the eastern side of England. It’s where his city, Cambridge, belongs and is home to a rich ecosystem of birds, plants, and fish, as well as the best moments of his childhood. Emotion is a main factor in Simon Scott’s music in recent years, his sound is sliding and deliberate, allowing the imagination to fly as the body relaxes. Perhaps there are no other of his albums like this one, so involved in the reclaiming of a far-off memory, entirely blurry and yellowed, in which the nooks and crannies of memory and nostalgia are so intensely activated. It is also the most laborious of them all: to add a touch of different colour to the palette of textures, besides the gliding synths and the guitar picked lightly and sparely, Scott has also taken special care to coat the seven movements of the LP with sounds recorded in the geographical area of the Fens. The recordings include both fauna and flowing water, which he uses to adorn sound landscapes that suggest less drama than in previous albums, but which nevertheless accentuate the qualities of an author who finds his voice increasingly clearly and sharply, in quietude and reflection. This is an album that sounds like a big bubble, a delicate bubble that might pop at any moment.

Beyond this, there is his own process of production: plenty of gliding synthesizer, a lot of analogue texture, but always with the accentuation of subtle glitches or, better yet, the croaking of a bird in the distance turned into a sort of development of clicks’n’cuts that decorates the final result. It’s as if these mental images of solitary beaches and lagoons had had a 3D effect added to them, an unexpected turn that makes the experience more realistic, more vivacious, and therefore more memorable. The rise of Simon Scott is a reality, and he remains in a fertile valley, where every new title that he adds to his curriculum vitae is a triumph.

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