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Ki Choquette

The Glimmer of a Movement in the Stillness of Water

[I Had An Accident; 2013]

By ; January 14, 2013 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The kind of fractured ambient music that Ki Choquette creates sits somewhere between the more minimal drone works of Tim Hecker and the pop instrumentation of Brian Eno, with a dose of found-sound pieces thrown in for good measure. On his latest release, The Glimmer of a Movement in the Stillness of Water, Choquette furthers the sense of nostalgia and half-remembered dreams that permeated his past releases. These six tracks hit those specific areas of your brain closely connected to memory, and as these songs play out, you can almost imagine some associative recollection that goes along with it. What really sets this collection of songs apart from so many other bedroom ambient composers is that Choquette realizes that even these sounds, which are purposefully formless and more attuned to feeling then structure, need some semblance of guidance to fully connect with the listener. And by adding a sense of loose pop construction, though still holding firm to their ambient roots, he allows these songs the typically unstructured progression so commonly associated with music of this type, while still retaining a suitable thematic consistency.

Opening track “Goldenrod” is our introduction to this foggy dreamworld and coaxes us into a state of cautious relaxation. The elastic bass notes and plucked guitar seem to twist around each other until we hear the sound of a car door being opened. Now whether this is some conscious decision on Choquette’s part to establish a sense of reality in the song or merely as way of branching out into the rest of the album, I don’t know. But I would say that either assumption works pretty well within the given context. Picking up where “Goldenrod” left off, “Lichen” again pairs various guitar tones and simple fretwork together into a simple, yet moving, piece of calmly droning dissonance. And possibly the most song oriented track here, “Tamarack,” with its brightly repetitive guitars and layers of background hiss, sounds like the memory of some innocuous Spring afternoon that you desperately wish you could keep from fading away.

Some would be quick to point out that these tracks do sound very similar at times and never really resolve into something resembling a unified identity. And while superficially that may be accurate, ambient music has never really been about concrete musical expansion or even a consistently maximalist approach but is more about the distillation of certain experiences and emotions. Tracks like “Kajar” and “Landfall” make this abundantly clear as they are more concerned with how these particular sounds can evoke very specific memories. The last track, “Flourescent,” with its soothing drones and shifting monochromatic textures, closes out the album with a gentle sway and seems to bring us back to reality, though this song could have stretched on for much longer. But as a bookend to the record, its works perfectly.

The length is problematic unfortunately as you’re just hitting that great groove of drone euphoria when the last track fades back into the fringes of wherever it came from. If Choquette had given himself a bit more room to expand on the ideas he plays around with, this collection could have really hit a high point for this kind of cracked, bedroom experimentalism. But regardless of genre confusion or the feeling that there could have been so much more for him to explore here, The Glimmer of a Movement in the Stillness of Water stands as one of the better bedroom ambient projects to come out of the Bandcamp haze in the last few years. Choquette sticks close to traditional ambient expectations while also managing to subvert them and by doing so, lifts himself well above his noisy peers. By letting the superficial slackness slip away, you come closer to getting at the heart of this collection of sounds. And as irreverent as some of the samples are here, there is never a moment when this record seems anything less than a serious exploration of how our memories function and the musical equivalent thereof. The title may stir thoughts of implacable navel gazing but the tracks here all exemplify the participatory nature of our memories.

Whether we realize it or not — and Choquette seems rather obsessed by it— our memories define who we are, and on this record, through the application of random samples and a common musical association, that connection becomes clear. But then again, ambient music itself tends to be rather subjective, so this album will probably play differently for different people. But I think that’s exactly what Choquette had in mind when he recorded these songs. By tapping into the hub of our collective subconscious, he allows each listener to experience something different—something unique. And for an album that was partially recorded on an iPhone (the majority of the field sounds), there is a depth to these tracks that belies their lo-fi origins. The Glimmer of a Movement in the Stillness of Water may be hampered a bit by its short length and somewhat scattered self-image, but I’d be hard pressed to name a collection of instrumental songs that have lingered in my head longer than those that spread out across this album.


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