Ionophore – Sinter Pools (2016)

A collaboration between the London and San Francisco Bay Area, Ionophore is a trio of neoclassical and electronic artists that I couldn’t place completely within the realms of static-laden power electronics or dark industrial. Rather, the sound is quite contemplative and will put you in the right frame of mind, or any frame of mind that you feel is necessary for the task ahead. As a writer, I’d definitely consider this good writing music, especially for the scenes of a book that might be a little bit deep and atmospheric in themselves. Of the eight pieces, there are several moods in which we are to grasp. Some of them being quite ethereal, while others a bit ominous and even romantic. The title track itself actually feels very frightening, with sharp violins, saxophones, eerie vocalizations and an all-around oppressive atmosphere. It feels as if I’m walking into a dungeon area of sorts, where all manner of evil awaits me. The last few notes in the piece are equally ominous and make me feel a bit funny, albeit not in what one might consider a pleasant fashion. “Infantman” seems to continue the slightly twisted atmosphere, but it doesn’t feel quite as overbearing and injects some calm female vocal lines to bring about a sort of fragile performance. It even starts to become a bit romantic, even though I somehow feel as if the voice here isn’t quite human, or that this is a cold love song from the future where an android programmed with no emotions attempts to emulate feelings of love. I feel that it is the electronic nature of this piece that gives it a bit of a cyberpunk vibe, even though there’s definitely a lot of classical here as well. It would make an awesome soundtrack for a film that I can see playing in my head.

“Underground Man” is where the mood changes to a meditative one as I referenced earlier. “Unchecked” was a bit harsh (but still a fine atmosphere) and this piece feels like it slows things down just a little. I almost feel a little bit of Steve Roach creeping up here,which I certainly won’t turn away. The last half of the album has an airy feel, which seems to just build right from “Underground Man” and continue all the way to the nearly angelic, but still quite morose “Checked.” There’s nothing here that sounds completely serene and doesn’t feel tainted by the industrious future world landscape, and I’m quite pleased with that. Even when it touches on ethereal and romantic territory, it is still very inhuman and feels like the sort of atmosphere you might find while making love to a machine. That being said, I love it. It very much feels like the soundtrack to what might be our possible future, making Ionophore something of musical prophets. I’m almost curious as to whether this would work in the background of some games, or during muted films. Could it build the same atmosphere in certain scenes that it would here inside my head? Whatever the case, if you’re a fan of soundscapes and are looking for something not so harsh and abrasive, (like a lot of these are) you’ll find something here in Ionophore. It’s like making cold love to an inorganic being, which might just be the future.

(8 Tracks, 38:00)

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