Grey Frequency may be called a newcomer in the dark ambient scene, but only if you’re someone who hasn’t ventured deep down to the grimmest depths of the genre. Gavin Morrow has been releasing works under this monicker for two years now and his new album is a good reason to get introduced to his work. Immersion was published by A Year In the Country, which itself is a very, very obscure discovery as well.
Before focusing on the music inside Immersion I’d like to mention its physical packaging. The record comes in two versions – called Night and Day (each limited to 52). Both versions include the album on a CDr, a button badge set and a unique art print for each copy of the edition. All of that is hosted in a neat black box. It’s a DIY work, with raw black and white images and print. The whole thing looks as a discovery, a document, a forgotten memory or a souvenier – something you may find in an abandoned library, not in a record store. A great thing is that A Year in The Country are doing this for each release they put out and their catalog is already pretty rich and rapidly expanding.
Music-wise Grey Frequency is a logical progression from the sounds previous explored on his first two releases (When Do We Dream?, Cold Geometry). Immersion offers two immense pieces spanning over almost twenty minutes each. The music is blurry, slightly lo-fi dark ambient. Based on barely moving, trembling I’d say, bass drones over which Gavin is layering higher pitched pads, one-time sounds and weird, disturbing noises to structure a static, yet tense aural environment. Grey Frequency is not an easy thing to listen to. It’s not a shiny and polished ambient project, but a leap into the more isolated and sparse, even slightly depressive, side of the genre, at least for me.
It does require a bit of a mood if you want to experience it fully, because only if you let yourself endure, thus get lost in that repetitiveness and sparseness you can really get a grasp of what this album is about. There are no accentuated details, there are no significant sound design micro sounds to look for. Instead there’s this huge void that needs your whole being focused and really immersed in this huge ambient drift.
However, I’m still wondering if it’s a good thing that the album, and Grey Frequency’s music in general, is so demanding of its listeners and their mood. Sometimes I prefer albums, which are not an easy treat for everybody, sometimes I feel ambient is already sufficiently specific and alternative as a genre and maybe artists should try to make it at least slightly easier to comprehend, especially to attract new people. However, that inner dilemma is the only reason that keeps me from giving this record a maximum rating… not that anybody cares all that much about ratings anyway.
01) Hemlock Stone
02) Coastline, Black Sky