Victor Nubla / Robin Storey

About Breathing

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One of many albums in what could be called a genre of found-sound ambience meets studio arrangement -- ever easier to do in an age of laptop computers and portable microphones -- About Breathing finds the two musicians inspired by and working with sounds in and around the town of Can Festis in northern Spain. The exact sources aren't delineated in the liner notes, but the inclusion of a reed instrument and bells, as well as heavily treated guitar at both the start and end with "Dawn in Can Festis" and "Winged Guitar," might also suggest local musicians. The mystery helps About Breathing stand on its own, with Storey and Nubla finding a ready balance between what could be organic, straightforward sound and clear studio treatments. If not in the end completely and distinctly unique as a result -- the sense of technological chill and vast sonic depths has long been a stable in the field -- it is still worthy of a listen, whether in the heat of a day or late in the evening. The sense of a daily cycle is made clear even more with a framing song title toward the end, "Twilight in Can Festis," which captures a sense of approaching darkness and energy slowly winding down quite well. The drowsy float of the title track, which certainly sounds like some strange mechanized thing come to life, quietly informs much of the album as a whole. There's the similarly breath-focused centerpiece (at over 20 minutes), "Exhalation of Stars," with soft percussion -- running water? wood instruments? marimbas? -- below the continuing drones and sighs leading the track. Meanwhile, the more openly mechanistic grind and clatter of "Quiet Humankind" -- a bemusing contrast of a title -- hints clearly at the carefully arranged nature of the album without taking away from its dreamy mystery.