O Yuki Conjugate

Undercurrents: In Dark Water

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Collecting old and new songs together in what can be considered a fine introduction for newcomers to the band's work, Undercurrents: In Dark Water consists of a full CD's worth of meditative, reflective, and soul-tugging explorations in electric ambient/non-Western sound. The connection to acts such as Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, and Black Tape for a Blue Girl can easily be heard at many times. There's both a warmth and a hushed, almost trembling and emotional pull to many of the songs, as well as open ears to many different styles and approaches. "Ascension," which starts the collection, captures a beautiful yet sad serenity as well as, via the drumming that begins after two minutes in, an ear for worldwide sources of energy and inspiration. Percussion in a variety of methods and styles underpins nearly everything as much as it does in, say, Muslimgauze, but with notably less intense focus and more openness to a gauzy, restrained meditation. Though the electronic beats contributing in part to "Ba-Makala" take a more upfront spot, the buried feedback low drones and sighs help the song retain a ghostly, not quite there feeling. On the flip side, the beats in "Steppe Land" are barely there at all, but that fits in with the song as a whole, almost the ghosts of instruments -- guitar, synth, whatever goes in the mix -- creating the understated textures. For those moments where direct percussion is eschewed, loops or mantra-like performances provide the same sense of rhythm, as on the flute-tinged beauty of "Cloud Cover" or the lead piano of the equally fine "Out of Nothing," also noteworthy for the high, wordless female vocals toward its conclusion. "Last," which appropriately concludes the disc, does so with a final gentle wash of sound -- though with notable if quietly mixed sudden piano pounds keeping a dark edge to things.