Throughout the course of the 4 full-length albums released by Sweden-based ambient group, Carbon Based Lifeforms, we’ve seen an impressive compilation of music; the diversity of which lies in the details rather than stylistic approach. And though their third release, Interloper, seemed to indicate a departure from the largely beat-less syrup of sonic soup, their most recent long-play release, Twentythree, clearly marks a definitive return to the days of Hydroponic Garden (2003).
Through a calculated, precise and economical use of sonic space, band members, Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad sculpt soundscapes that – for the most part – induce visions of rainforests and prehistoric swamps bursting at the seems with the unrealized potential for organic life. In contrast to the majority of the record is “Somewhere In Russia,” which seems more post-apocalyptic than pre-civilization. Crackling, broken remnants of once-comforting string passages are picked apart by cacophonic synth tones as the track closes with a broken-down, cold and removed atmospheric view of earth and the lifeless dust of a past civilization torn asunder by misuse of power and technology.
Immediately following, a stark and startling contrast lies in “Terpene” which paints an aural portrait as natural and bleak as the colder months of Sweden’s rolling landscapes. Hollow, sweeping synth pulses bare unmistakable likeness to the harsh gusts of wind so common among icy plains the world over while euphonic melodies float effortlessly among the brittle sonic beds like ice carried on vast expanses of frigged water. A strange middle ground between the two extremes of which this record is comprised – between planetary innocence and post-apocalyptic darkness – lies in “Inirtia,” which blends both organic and mechanized tones as if to indicate some incarnation of futuristic communion between man and machine – as though the two worlds presented have found a way in which to coexist.
Though this review, simply by it’s very nature could never hope to touch upon all which are present, many more intricacies and implementations of sonic detail exist throughout this record. Luckily, for those willing to put in the effort, Twentythree is a goldmine of aural pleasure just waiting to be discovered.