SUBTRACTIVELAD: Life At The End Of The World (n5MD)


Posted on Mar 24th 2010 01:30 am

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SubtractiveLAD: Life At The End Of The World

Life At The End Of The World
n5MD 2010
10 Tracks. 63mins14secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD iTunes: DLD

Anchored somewhere between the refined ambient work of Brian Eno and the lush hazy guitar motifs of Slowdive, Vancouver-based Stephen Hummel, AKA SubtractiveLAD, has become, in the space of six albums in as many years, one of the most prominent artists to have emerged from the n5MD stable. From his first steps away from his background as a jazz musician back in 2005, he has predominantly been found scouring the outer reaches of ambient electronic music, and while his subsequent record, Suture (2006) introduced a slightly more beat-driven approach, he returned to vast atmospheric soundscapes with No Man’s Lab (2007), this time supplementing his largely electronic set up with a guitar, an instrument which, in extremely treated form, has since become central to his work.

His latest offering, Life At The End Of The World, revisits some of the big themes of its epic predecessor, Where The Land Meets The Sky, especially the vast sweeping atmospheric sprawls of its second half and is preoccupied with the same notion of open space. Here though, the tracks are much more condensed, with the longest barely scratching the ten minute mark. Remain the impressive sonic spaces, the slowly-changing melodies and the dense textures, all wrapped up in copious amounts of effects, making it almost entirely impossible to dissociate guitar and electronics. Life At The End Of The World appears to exist in the depth of a thick wintery haze, with only very occasional sparks of light to mark the way, the most prominent of these being a swirling piano motif, somewhat reminiscent of Sigur Rós on Summer In Your Mouth. These moments are few and far between though, and never materialize for long, leaving the listener lost in Hummel’s carefully woven sonic webs for the most part. This is far from being an unpleasant sentiment however. Indeed, while there is apparently very little in the structure of a track to differentiate it from another, this goes toward creating a rather effective atmospheric setting all the way through. There are some particularly beautiful moments worth noting on here, whether it is the heavenly glow of a slide guitar on The Deep And Lonely Quiet, recalling Slowdive at their most peaceful, and, occasionally Victorialand-era Cocteau Twins, while With Eternal Lids Apart takes an almost orchestral turn around its midway point, and the title track becomes impressively dense as it sinks into heavy clouds of distortions.

In recent years, the SubtractiveLAD sound has become much thicker and more ambitious, and Life At The End Of The World sees Stephen Hummel take this to yet another level. While there is nothing here that quite matches the epic scale of some of the pieces from his last record, he applies a very similar process to shorter pieces and creates his most haunting soundtrack yet.


SubtractiveLAD | SubtractiveLAD (MySpace) | n5MD
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD iTunes: DLD

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