Ensemble Pearl
Ensemble Pearl


4.5
superb

Review

by Thomas Michael Morris USER (36 Reviews)
May 15th, 2013 | 15 replies | 2,961 views


Release Date: 03/19/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Maximal quality from minimal compositional means.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

A common misperception is to liken musical ability to a positive arithmetic spectrum. In this analogy, the plotted variables closest to zero would represent the rudimentariness of a composition, while the variables that stretch towards positive infinity would represent technical virtuosity. The showmanship of technical playing is easily lauded for its ability to wrest attention, but to praise it as the endgame of a musician's studies would not be completely just. While it is simplest to insert objectivity into musical analysis by only acknowledging the positive end of said spectrum, (consider of the flurry of notes played by a Chopin or Liszt), the negative end musn't be ignored. "Music" itself has such a malleable definition that the silence between notes must be considered as, if not more crucial than, the actual struck pitches. Minimalists will never attain the laudability of technical virtuosos due to the acute attention often required to experience a piece, but with proper attention, their works can be just as effective.

This brings me to Ensemble Pearl, an ambient & drone-based supergroup including members of minimalist stalwarts such as Sunn O))), Ghost, and Boris. Their self-titled debut LP is made up of six slow-burning tracks that seldom accelerate beyond a crawling pace, and definitely do not entice with traditional alacrity. Also in keeping true to the drone template, the six presented cuts amass a total runtime over an hour in length, with the final three tracks all eclipsing the ten-minute mark. Ensemble Pearl is certainly the type of album that can be left to rumble along inoffensively in the background, but as is the case with all great pieces of minimalistic composition, the music flickers brightest when apt attention is given.

Despite the leaden pace the album trudges along in, each track has multiple salient events that act as beacons of light in the aural mist. The drone that creates the mist, however, is just as critical to creating and maintaining Ensemble Pearl's atmosphere. Michio Kurihara's wailing guitar leads are easily the most attention-grabbing aspect of "Ghost Parade", but it's the spaced-out clean guitar picks and droning soundscapes that elevate the track into something truly chilling. "Painting on a Corpse" is driven by Atsuo's pounding tom rhythms, but is punctuated by intermittent electronic swells that slowly crescendo to a deafening roar before fading back to nothingness. Each track has little nuances such as these that give themselves identity, and give the album a surprising amount of variety for the type of genre it lies in.

It's pressing to note that despite the suffocating wall of distortion that Boris, and more notoriously, Sunn O))) are wont to implementing, Ensemble Pearl is distortion-free. This helps create a very breathy atmosphere that remains pertinent throughout the album's entirety. That's not to say that the album isn't at times overwhelming, however, it's just a slightly different variant of it. Instead of persistent sonic buffeting, the intensity on Ensemble Pearl is given room to breathe. This creates a much more subdued type of tension that is akin to watching a psychological horror movie; the ambiance sets up for something truly horrifying, but the jump-scare never actually occurs. Despite all of the musical fuses that are lit, there isn't a single moment where the album explodes. It certainly could have, but Ensemble Pearl clearly understand that restraint holds more meaning given the correct parameters.

It may drag slightly in the latter half, but overall Ensemble Pearl's debut LP is incredibly absorbing. There's enough nuance in the composition for it to be more than just another wall-of-sound album, but not so much for it to feel weighted down. It shouldn't be surprising given its members' collective experience that Ensemble Pearl have managed to create an incredibly effective atmospheric drone release, but what may be surprising is that what they've created eclipses a good deal of their previous material in terms of artistry. For all its slowness, Ensemble Pearl is at times frighteningly tense. This is attaining maximal quality with minimal composition.



Recent reviews by this author
Progenie Terrestre Pura U.M.A.Amon Amarth Deceiver of the Gods
Polkadot Cadaver Last Call in JonestownDr. Quandary Wayfarers
Thank You Scientist Maps of Non-Existent PlacesCoheed and Cambria The Afterman: Descension
user ratings (27)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Yazz_Flute
May 15th 2013



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review can also be found at this location: http://mediasnobs.com/music-review/ensemble-pearl-ensemble-pearl/

Digging: Eskaton - 4 Visions

oltnabrick
May 15th 2013



30640 Comments


Yeah this rules

Digging: Yung Lean - Unknown Memory

Yazz_Flute
May 15th 2013



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is up there as one of my top albums of the year definitely.

oltnabrick
May 15th 2013



30640 Comments


Yep its up there for me too

Eclecticist
May 15th 2013



3863 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Your review is very well written but it praises this album for characteristics that, are not bad, but
are antithetical in the way that they contribute to the actual overall composition. While I agree on
many of your points that the style is neat, I remained unattached to the music and so my appreciation
is limited to the novelty of each interesting segment that I heard over a prolonged period of grueling
electronic, guitar and percussive instrumentation. I am sure that after a few listens, even the novel
segments that I was slightly intrigued by will seem normal and blend into the mundane totality of the
piece. Though I doubt that my rating will decrease because I believe a 3/5 properly describes an album
I perceive as being slightly better than average.

PunchforPunch
May 15th 2013



6230 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

cool

Maniac!
May 15th 2013



26250 Comments


Your review is very well written but it praises this album for characteristics that, are not bad, but are antithetical in the way that they contribute to the actual overall composition. While I agree on many of your points that the style is neat, I remained unattached to the music and so my appreciation is limited to the novelty of each interesting segment that I heard over a prolonged period of grueling electronic, guitar and percussive instrumentation. I am sure that after a few listens, even the novel segments that I was slightly intrigued by will seem normal and blend into the mundane totality of the piece. Though I doubt that my rating will decrease because I believe a 3/5 properly describes an album I perceive as being slightly better than average.


You really could have condensed this paragraph of bullshit into about two sentences if you weren't so absorbed in making yourself appear intelligent through your comments.


Eclecticist
May 15th 2013



3863 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Or I could garnish my opinion with interesting words and colourful phrases. Idt the intelligence of
the average sputniker is too low to understand what I said. It was pretty clear.

demigod!
May 15th 2013



44167 Comments


Ahh still gotta check!

Digging: Failure - Magnified

Yazz_Flute
May 15th 2013



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Your review is very well written but it praises this album for characteristics that, are not bad, but are antithetical in the way that they contribute to the actual overall composition.


Antithetical how? Because I praised the parts that stood out while initially lauding minimalism? I'm not sure I follow.

I'll admit that drone isn't a genre I'm hugely familiar with outside of the essentials, but this has been an album that's grown on me considerably since its release. Different strokes for different folks, really.

FadedSun
May 15th 2013



1260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic album.

Yazz_Flute
May 15th 2013



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have a listen, folks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9r3eNYJAyw

SubtleBody
May 21st 2013



519 Comments


Still need to check this.

Yazz_Flute
May 23rd 2013



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do it mang.

mindleviticus
July 1st 2013



8220 Comments


this is not my thing even though i love drone :{



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy