OLAN MILL: Pine (Serein Limited)


Posted on Apr 30th 2010 12:01 am

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Olan Mill: Pine

Serein Limited 2010
10 Tracks. 34mins45secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD

If ambient music can be a tricky genre to tackle, Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko, the duo forming Olan Mill, have negotiated the hurdle of their first collaborative ambient record extremely well. The second CD release on Welsh label Serein, following Nest’s Retold album earlier this year, Pine was recorded in a small church, but instead of relying on electronic textures and field recordings, Olan Mill work with a somewhat restricted set of acoustic instruments. Throughout the record, one can ear in turn echoes of a piano, a violin, a pipe organ, a guitar, but these are often wrapped in dense layers of reverb, their respective edges blurred, their attack soften, their decay prolonged almost to infinity, to create rich and vivid organic sonic spaces.

Despite the limited number of instruments used, Smalley and Samoylenko build pretty dense and fluid soundscapes, which they condense within short sonic vignettes, the longest barely expanded to five minutes forty, the shortest kept under two minutes. There is however a surprisingly pastoral feel to the pair’s work as various components go in and out of focus throughout the album. Pine opens with the languorous flow of Spare Smoke Template, which becomes more intricate and vibrant as it progresses to eventually sound almost orchestral in its closing moments. This is something that appears throughout as the pair delve deeper into their rich sound formations, at times developed into wonderful cinematic waves over the course of a whole piece (A Heavy Leg Cycle, An Obedient Ear), at others kept to much more subtle brushes (Disempowered, Pine, The Prescribed Individual).

Occasionally, the complex layering makes way for much more stripped down moments. This is particularly the case on the beautiful piano-led The Prescribed Individual, or on the closing moments of Country, where a guitar casts an ethereal shadow reminiscent of Victorialand-era Robin Guthrie, or later on closing piece Flume, where the piano once again becomes the main component, yet here the chords which form the core of the piece are progressively overlaid in reverb until they become drone.

With their first collaborative release as Olan Mill, Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko have created a superbly evocative and dreamy record, filled with stunning ambient soundscapes and compositions. They never let the limitation of their sound pool temper their vision, and as a result, Pine sounds particularly ambitious and rich. That they achieve this using restricted means is a testament of their combined musicianship.


Olan Mill | Serein Limited
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD

Olan Mill – A Heavy Leg Cycle from Serein on Vimeo.

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Comments (1)

One Response to “OLAN MILL: Pine (Serein Limited)”

  1. Casimir's Blakeon 02 Aug 2010 at 1:57 pm

    This deserves more comments, and I’m shocked none have been left. I happen to know Alex and Svitlana, they’re tremendous people, creative and imaginative souls and that they have managed to create such a beautiful blend of… chamber-dream-ambient (?) doesn’t surprise me. Lovely album guys, fantastic work!