Monday, 1 August 2011
REVIEW: Gkfoes Vjgoaf - Nature Eternal Striving (Inner Islands)
Nature Eternal Striving
Sean Conrad is an exploratory sort of person. He is physically well travelled, having moved round the US and now residing in New Zealand, though his camp there is an equally nomadic one. His previous release as Gkfoes Vjgoaf, Glacial Ways found him take tentative steps towards the water's edge of a new sound - the element itself; Water. With titles that involve the words River, Mist, Clouds and Snow the main influence for Nature Eternal Striving is explicitly liquid and the album immediately starts with the gentle sway and rocking that echoes the waves and tides and continues to expound on the theme throughout. This new record comes with one of Sean's more insightful introductions which explains his disinterest in water and the fact he hasn't even been swimming for five years, then explains his realisation of it's importance to him and a new found connection to it. The music of Gkfoes has always been elementally obsessed, starting off with forest forays and campfire rounds ripened in the pine scented backwoods of his home state of California, albums strewn with birdsong and wind rustling leaves, tracks embellished with the sounds of the ambient nature around him. Now living in one of the wettest regions on Earth he has begun producing music that is in thrall to the rhythms and textures that make up seventy percent of the world's surface and the insides of our bodies.
On Nature Eternal Striving Sean has filled his sound out just that little bit much more and created his most cohesive and wholly consuming record to date. What he achieves is one of those masterly atmospheres that is not so easy to describe, yet so easy to sink into and be transported along with. Its apparent simplicity belies it's complex psychological effect and musical construction; a harmonising of alertness and deep slow breathing trance that will almost flat line your heart-rate with tracks like the 17 minute River Friends and closing Temple Of Snow. This is drone music with a lot of movement. There's a shimmering post-rock ambience to the way his use of repetition is pushed to subliminally affecting, physically arresting purposes, teasing out endlessly looping refrains of majestic beauty. This is new age trance music in the vein of White Rainbow's Prism Of Eternal Now without the ironic knowingness of what it's attempting, nor any of the crudity of someone like Dolphins Into The Future (though Ka Ala Ke Kua does convincingly refutes that).
In a harsh critical sense this could be viewed as practical, utility, flotation tank music, but that view would overlook the depth and sheer talent of the musicianship that enhance the album through the intangible elements of quiet euphoria that have always been there in his work. On ...Striving Sean has made these elements more pronounced whilst simultaneously immersing them into the body of the tracks with a more finessed subtlety that makes them much more consciously apparent, creating a coherent, transcendent, yet still elusive album that is always ahead of the listener, leading the mind into over-abundant landscapes of sonic fauna and flora.
Nature Eternal Striving is released on 12th August by Inner Islands and is available to order now. Comes on multicoloured 12" vinyl in a double gatefold sleeve, with digital download.
Here's the final track from the album; The Temple In Snow: