Composer Robert Straub is the man behind the name Arrocata and his latest album In the Distance
is inspired by, and evocative of, the Sonoran desert. By combining
electronic, acoustic, and what are either environmental or faux
environmental sound effects, he's created a low key atmospheric work.
For most of us who are unfamiliar with the Sonoran desert the liner
notes helpfully contain some brief background on each of the tracks.
Whereas some ambient albums feel like they're taking you on a journey, listening to In the Distance
is more like staying in one place while soaking up the atmosphere and
surroundings in detail. I've not encountered many albums that mix found
sounds and subtle music in such an integral way; the nearest work with
any similarity I can think of is OTI's Recollection.
First up is “Superstitions” which refers to the superstition mountains
that contain rock spires and canyons. Washes like insectile humming
breeze in and out of the soundfield while a lone drum beat is heard
every few seconds adding a hint of a tribal aura. Meanwhile sounds of
life constantly tweet and twitter in the background.
A sense of mystery pervades the album, as though the Earth's
secrets are providing brief glimpses to the edges of human perception.
Musically the peak is found on “The Dutchman” which begins with a
snaking of drones possessing a suggestion of frisson, spooky washes,
and occasional searing electronics that shatter the calm. A slow
tinkling rhythm then kicks in to soon be joined by drum and bass
effects. Several kinds of washes, some vocally tinged, whoosh to and
fro adding to the somewhat hypnotic but also disquieting feeling.
In the Distance is an absorbing ambient work where the music melds seamlessly with the environmental effects. Recommended.
by Dene Bebbington reprinted from Melliflua.com on