psygnosis III

February 12, 2009

There is little that can excite me more than a new Idle Sunder release when it comes to ambient music. While I ever so slightly prefer their Aether series, their Psygnosis work is hardly any worse and adds Bogdan Dullsky in the mix to create a slightly different tone. Psygnosis III is another very solid entry in the discography of Idle Sunder and keeps the level of ambient releases on the Entity label as high as possible.

Psygnosis III cover extract

Idle Sunder releases are all about the trip and voyage through music. While there is no doubt that I prefer some tracks over others the albums work best as a solid whole played from start to finish. Psygnosis III is no different, as it almost plays like a feature length film where you can fill in the plot blanks.

The album starts with Stone Clouds, a track that very much marks the beginning of the voyage. The song starts off rather subtle with gristly waves covering a blanket of soft noises. The waves become more dominant as it progresses and form an awesome ethereal climax propelling the listener onto his voyage. Brainscape takes over, slowly drifting along to safer places. It's a slow scenery track passing various atmospheres and taking a couple of turns without ever leaving its main path or dividing the song into different sections.

Mountains Walk is more centered around one single theme that is explored throughout the song. Beautiful waves are set against rough and barren carpets of grit and grain. It swells, fades and climaxes with plenty of strength and power. Wasteland follows and is more linear in structure and slowly builds to a sublime peak. Pretty strings and alien sounds collaborate to bring you an impressive view of the landscape described in the song title. It's tracks like these that really define Sunder's style as it instantly invokes images of deserted landscapes, delivering a melancholic, soft, mysterious but at the same time creepy atmosphere.

Psygnosis III cover extract

The Outland is quite different in tone and seems more grounded in earthly sounds. The flute is obviously one of the biggest reasons for that, giving it an early Indian landscape feel. The song sounds like the Wild West waking up to a watery sunrise partly hidden in the mist. It could just as well be that short flashback, full of memories, before the big climax of Sunder's film as Noise To Signal takes you inside an relentless storm slowly giving way to a brand new day.

Trillion Light Reflections closes off the album and leaves you floating in nothingness, at ease but lost in between all the wide spaces. I simply love how Sunder knows to end his albums and Psygnosis III is no exception. It are tracks like these that make him one of my favorite ambient artists out there. Sweet, pretty but lined with a darker edge, this is ambient at its best.

Idle Sunder requires you to have an imaginative spirit, the rest is steered by the sounds and moods of the album. If you take the time to listen to it carefully then stories will unfold and places will be uncovered, but they will be very much your own interpretations. If you lack the skill this music has very little appeal. I personally love Sunder's atmospheres and build-ups. Without a doubt the best ambient collective on the label and my all-time favorite ambient guide.

The full album can be downloaded for free on the Entity site.