To create an interesting drone ambient piece that actually transfers the attentive listener to an altered state—something that I see as one of the primary functions of ambient music—is challenging, to say the least. To compose and successfully execute such a track while stretching it for over twenty minutes requires a true mastery of the art form. Athens, Greece-based multi-instrumentalist Zenjungle excels in all of the aforementioned aspects with last year’s long-form composition All of Our Yesterdays. Rarely have I encountered such an emotionally profound work of modern sound art in the drone ambient field—one that is capable of utterly engaging the listener through its full duration and evoking such a strong emotive landscape.
With All of Our Yesterdays, we find a musical drama of the highest quality, with mesmerizing scenes of suspense and release that juxtapose thick textural distortion against smooth saxophone and clarinet leads, summoning massive synthesized swells that plunge into deep solitary depths and rise back again. Zenjungle shows great discipline in using a wide variety of instruments and tools to create a rich yet effectively minimal journey. Twenty-two minutes pass by in a sigh, leaving an awe-inspired feeling of having witnessed something extremely meaningful. In addition to its immaculate production and superb dramatic arch, what I find striking is how, immediately after headphone-diving into the piece, it begins forming distinct imagery within one’s mind’s eye.
Listening to All of Our Yesterdays, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by visions of a worn and sparsely equipped hospital room. I can clearly hear tired EKG blips and the whining hiss of a decrepit respiratory machine. A single window in a brick wall with no curtains gives way to a view over barren grounds, dotted by patches of snow. It is a place where memories of warmer days, blazed with gold, wither in the grip of a chilly gloom. The atmosphere on All of our Yesterdays engulfs its audience, and I have become lost in it. This room isn’t simply a metaphor; this album takes you there. I am in the room, where I can smell the rusty iron tubes that form a shaky bed frame for a thin, rancid mattress, upon which generations of men and women have left this world.
All of Our Yesterdays serves as an opening act for a series of long-form tracks released by Futuresequence, a label known for its eclectic roster and fantastic Sequence compilations. The idea of twenty-plus-minute compositions is wonderful as it offers artists a chance to really showcase their skills and musical ambitions. With All of Our Yesterdays, Zenjungle sets the highest possible standards for the series.
01) All of Our Yesterdays