Teknofonic Records (label)
02 June 2017 (released)
18 May 2017
Ambient music, if done well, should give you a vision of a time and place. If done very well, should tell a story without needing words. If done expertly, it can drive you to feel strongly about something by its empathetic nature and move you to take action. New York artist, Mike Sayre's new album does just that. It transports the listener to the bleak bottom of the earth to unearth, or rather unthaw its strange and wonderful beauty while also highlighting its impending demise.
From the first frosty seconds, Music for Icebergs shimmers and twinkles like the day's first sun rays glistening off a dripping icicle, shooting off a kaleidoscopic rainbow. Sharp, high pitched synths merge and overflow as the drips turn into cracks. A faint melody emerges. Like standing on a massive ice shelf in awe of that white abyss, the only sound you hear is the breaking up of the sheets in the distance. All at once you feel the stillness of a seemingly untouched realm but at the same time, the tentacles of events half a world away are tearing into the continent like lions teeth into zebra flesh. Your moment of realization is disrupted by the frigid antarctic wind that bites at your skin and forces you to take shelter.
The opener 'Genesis' fades into 'Fimbul'. Now you're inside with the sound of the killer winds as a dull constant reminder of the peril that awaits you outside your camp. It's night now and moaning voices call out in the dark as if some ancient stranger is hunting in the night. Perhaps even more terrifying is that there is no one there. No one for thousands of miles. Sharing the rock with a monstrous killer may offer more solace than the prospect that you are truly alone. The cracks continue to echo in the distance, like sands passing through an hourglass, they spell an inexorable doom. Channels of water develop into currents that cut like a knife through butter. These channels lead you deep down into the lower layers of the ice shelf where crystalline caverns bear ancient secrets frozen in time.
'Anthropocene', named for the period of geologic time that began with the emergence of man as a transformative force on earth, takes on a sinister tone. From the ashes of a melancholic french horn melody, come the churning wheels of industry, ever advancing with a crushing footprint. The cracks continue to intensify as 'Floes/Flows' intimates the rising tides flowing out of these ever growing crevasses. Woozy piano celebrates the fleeting moments we have with the world as we know it, knowing that we are on the edge of a tipping point. Synths become increasingly ominous as chunks of ice spill into rapidly growing torrents. 'Elegy' bookends the album serving as a mourning for the planet. His french horn cuts to the core, like the funeral knell for a dear friend.
Mike Sayre's visionary piece is a stirring compendium of the history and future of the South Pole and how its demise will affect us all. He draws the beauty out of these desolate landscapes with a subtle grace all while constantly reinforcing its ungodly chill. Ever present is the sense that this vital part of our world that keeps life's fragile balance does not have much time left. Far from a raging, rocking protest anthem, Music for Icebergs does what other artistic pieces sometimes can't, induce a sense of empathy and appreciation without being absolutist and heavy-handed. This album speaks volumes without saying a word. Inspiring work. 4.5 Stars.