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Saåad: Pink Sabbath EP

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Pink Sabbath EP


What makes one drone as soothing and encompassing and soul-tugging as the sound of the womb and another a flat, dull noise? Maybe it’s as individual as, well, a womb, but it’s possible Romain Barbot of Toulouse, France, has discovered some secret formula. The four-track Pink Sabbath EP, his second recording released as Saåad, seemingly involves no special sonic ingredients that distinguish his music among terabytes of laptop-tooled hums turned out by hundreds, maybe thousands of fellow file manipulators. Yet it’s likely to land on a permanent loop in the right sets of earbuds.

The original sound sources here are less evident than on Barbot’s 2010 Saåad debut It Was, a more prosaic “ambient” recording (whatever that means at this point). “Pink Sabbath” launches straight into the featureless droning void, underpinned by ominous rumblings a la Thomas Köner’s gong-based recordings and pierced by a hint of luminous, if smeared, tintinnabulation. Bass tones rattle lightweight speakers as “HIIMVLYYV” builds a more complex lattice of sounds, oscillating sustains creating a rich, blurry tremolo. By the end of the expansive eight-plus-minute “Southberry Tower,” the only track here longer than a radio-ready single, Barbot has built up layers of subtle chordal melody and glowing timbre that approach the misty majesty of Wolfgang Voigt’s work as GAS.

Maybe part of Pink Sabbath’s appeal lies in Barbot, wittingly or otherwise, embracing the form in which it exists currently—the download. The tracks segue seamlessly into each other but each section steps off distinctly once you listen for it. The music’s vaporous contours don’t need pristine fidelity to work well, and even provide different listening experiences based on the properties and limitations of various typical mid-to-lo-fi outputs (earphones, computer speakers, car-stereo speakers, etc.). The 20-minute total length matches up nicely with the typical urban commute, as does its discrete beauty and isolating/illuminating drone. And then there’s the lack of barrier inherent in the current name-your-price sales model. (Lee Gardner)

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