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Tourist Gaze Explores Ambient’s Melancholy Underbelly in “To Grow Across Meetings”

by Angel S.

The music of Tourist Gaze is usually found on Swedish tape label Blodad Tand or Berlin-based Total Black. However, with To Grow Across Meetings, the artist is joining the roster of Niels Geybels‘s two-year-old and increasingly reputable Belgian tape imprint Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere. Tourist Gaze is a part of what I perceive as the strongest batch for the label so far, and I have the feeling they’ll be making their way back to the label in the future.

Cold and and generally Northern in atmosphere, the ambient tracks that Tourist Gaze has assembled for this release is a perfect match for Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere. To Grow Across Meetings could also be a perfect fit for labels like Posh Isolation or Strange Rules. I’m namedropping here just to give you a hint of the essence and quality behind this work as thinking about the artists on either of those labels will immediately bring to mind a particular aesthetic.

To Grow Across Meetings spans approximately thirty minutes. It’s a quick fix of ambient that is based on synthwave melodies which are scattered over cold pads and subtle bass pulses. Shambles of decomposing field recordings and tape hiss inhabit the sparse spaces between the notes. If the synths are the sea, hiss is the sun shining through the clouds for Tourist Gaze.

The tape takes its time and doesn’t overdo it. Each track lets you explore a looping world of music. The elements shine on their own but cannot be deprived of the context of the whole. The melancholic melodies Tourist Gaze unfurls on To Grow Across Meetings could have made it to any of your favorite lo-fi, post-punk, or cold wave tracks, but no… Instead, they are here swimming in hiss and once again proving that ambient is a genre with more meaning than what both either its haters and fans can sometimes handle.

With often poetic titles, the tracks do feel like aural snapshots in time. While the individual tracks do occasionally feel unfinished, frankly no photograph is intended to show you the entire world. Instead, we are offered but precious fragments, both in context and objective reality. The definitive highlights of To Grow Across Meanings are the two separate chapters of the self-titled piece; both have managed to unite everything that the rest of the music beautifully was only capable of showing us in pieces.

Audio. Visuals. Atmosphere.