Strom Noir, the primary musical project of Emil Maťko, can perhaps best be described as delicately detailed ambient music. Maťko hails from Bratislava, Slovakia, and has been recording as Strom Noir since 2007. Glaciology, released on Poland’s prolific experimental imprint Zoharum, presents us with four tracks, slowly unfolding over forty blissed-out minutes, plus a bonus piece that runs at over twenty minutes in length. The Slovak subtitle to this album is štyri skladby pre sneh & ľad, which translates as “Four pieces for snow and ice”—a theme which is readily apparent in the textures and tones presented.
In the matter of a few short minutes, you are welcomed into a world of shimmering beauty, filled with multi-chord, undulating sonic swaths. The pieces here don’t so much build as they evolve. The effect is extremely subtle, but when you soon realize that you are in a different world than you were only a few minutes ago, you begin to appreciate the compositional technique used by Maťko.
This evolutionary approach to ambient music is one of my favourite styles, and Maťko employs it to great effect in the four primary pieces on this album. Each track begins in slow motion, a reflection of the glacial themes that he has chosen to explore on Glaciology. These are not the deep, cracking glaciers of Thomas Köner, nor are they the haunting, romanticized ones of Biosphere’s expeditions; rather, they are more delicate, majestic, and breathtaking in their own unique perspective.
Although the liner notes state that all tracks were “conceived as headphone music,” I much prefer these sounds to fill the room in all their glory. Reverberated guitar treatments envelop portions of the tracks, a similar effect to how the Sight Below might sound in more minimal terrain. The interplay with the background textures makes for a completely involving auditory experience.
The fifth piece on Glaciology, titled “Niekedy sa vracajú,” was originally released in shorter form on the Dronarivm-released cassette Tanec Rusaliek in 2013. It makes for a more sedated journey, with some wonderful interplay of minimal sound treatments and textures but with less of the organic approach to arrangement featured on the previous four tracks. Still, it is a lovely piece of music, andit carries the album through to a tranquil end.
Strom Noir’s Glaciology is a very strong release that brings a new approach to some of the glacial themes that have inspired many other artists in the ambient genre. Packaged in an attractive foldout sleeve featuring mountainous photos by Martin Matula, I would highly recommend seeking this out if your interests lie in finely composed, unhurried ambient music.
05) Niekedy sa vracajú (Original Full-Length Version)