It’s hard to comprehend that one of the creators of this patient and meditative release is also half of the bombastic noise and techno duo Orphan Swords, but that’s who P.Maze is; working for the second time with Brussels-based composer and double-bass player Otto Lindholm. Together they released 2018’s Where The Wolf Has Been Seen, an enigmatic record torn between ambience and urban anxiety.
The sounds of that LP evoked the city, and it’s no surprise, recorded as it was in a 12 meter-square room in the middle of one, and likewise their second album reflects where it too was made, in the an “old house in the countryside… with a large window overlooking the trees”. The resultant music peruses just half of the Where The Wolf…’s multitudes, committing itself to slowly unravelling ambience completely…
The record is one of unapologetic ambience, and will likely be used to provide atmosphere to environments in much the same way New Age music was first intended to when it emerged in the mid-1970s. But the line between boredom and success in this style is thin, and it’s Maze and Lindholm’s unapologetic devotion to mood which makes A River… fall on the side of the latter. One sonic palette is settled upon; every sound recorded was made using instruments of wood or metal, manipulated with effects but retaining their essential analogue character.
Opener “There’s A Room For You” is fifteen minutes long, and spends it’s time lulling the listener into a calm meditation, where warped vocals and slow strings are pulled apart and bathed together, with just a delicate cymbal keeping time. “Racing, Chasing, Hunting” meanwhile perhaps demonstrates what P.Maze brings to the table, with a murkier opening salvo erupting into a dense and creaking wall of sound.
Such darker moments however seem to exist in service of the light, with closer “The Uncut Wood” proceeding in a quite minor tone, with the most patient trickle of sound giving way to some tentative and shimmering synths – an apt coda for a record which isn’t revolutionary, and determinedly so.
Words by Liam Inscoe – Jones.