WE need another word. Deperately. "Ambient" has long been a frustrating inadequate way to describe the kind of forceful, disturbingly unreal, intensely particularised, non-linear approach to music-maiking that encompasses techno outfits as diverse as Autechre, Sven Vath and The Aphex Twin. It's also an all-too-handy term of abuse for those of yo still reckon ambient means spliffing up royally to sampled whale cries and then lying on the floor with the lava lamp on. Believe me, the plot has thickkened considerably since you last tuned in
The new ambient is about as comforting as a barbed wire fence around a nuclear dump. It's not a sonic tabula rasa designed so that you can stock the cosy, private universe of your imagination and plump up the velvet cushions of escapism; it describes alternative realities, sure, but these are sometimes just as cruelly delineated and often much harsher than the here-and-now.
Seefeel have grasped this nettle and love its sting and, if you plough rough your stash of draw before (un)settling down with this album, be warned - you'll probably be checking anxiously under your bed a dozen times before you collapse into it.
"Succour" takes the saturated beauty and hyper-suggestive, humanistic charge of My Blbody Valentine to a logical techno-extreme, excising a lot of that band's emotional touchpoints and replacing them with a chilly, cerebral - but equally divine - pre-historic solitude. Seefeel are a MBV who have discovered The Aphex Twin in a deep freeze and so severed all ties with pop's climax-obsessed drive, instead abandoning themselves to The Great Unknown.
The journey begins with "Meal", a Juno Reactor-esque malevolent swell that's more Sellafield than Elysian fields, then quietly vapourises in "Extract", where tentative vocals are reduced to a whispered mantra of "Lovelovelovelove". It's a snap-frozen rapture that's not unearthly , not spacey, but instead suggestive of some crystalline Othersphere.
"When Face Was Face" ups the pace a couple of notches and adds percussive clout with its deep-chamber rhythms; you can almost taste the cold metal in your mouth and feel the machine-energy pulse metronomicol through your fingers. There's a tribal urgency battling Seefeel's ever-present woozy, hypnotic flood in "Fracture", with its gentle melochc bleating that rows ever more plaintive, while "Gatha" is another curdled beauty with a primitive rhythmic shuffle.
"Ruby-Ha" is the most glacial ofthe 10 tracks here - a hushed, icy blast with barely a blush of human emotion, each gorgeous cadence like a breath exhaled on a cold winter morning, while in the distance dawn breaks with a watery lightand a motor boat putters upstream. Then there's "Vex", which bumps up the BPMs again with a tantalizing hint of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", the skankyioping pulse of "Cut" and, finally, the audaciously open-ended "Utreat", which points defiantly ... nowhere.
So often you read about recordss/books/movies which "capture the imagination", like that's some kind of compliment. I'd rather mine was setfree, thanks, and I can live without capitalised beginnings and final fullstops."Succour" provides both everything and nothing and is iust as much a minefield as a treasure trove. lt's beautiful. Be careful.
Sharon O' Connell