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Pausal - Lapses




A good deal of ambient music reminds me of music fed through a Random Ambient Generator. With only a few clicks of the mouse, out comes an enjoyable and relaxing piece. Of course, this is actually far from true. Creating good ambient music is a time-consuming process that requires excellent production skills, one in which our friend the Random Ambient Generator plays little part. But this speaks to the faceless and nameless aspect to the genre, which shares musical visions and a fondness for drones and relaxing soundscapes. Or perhaps it points more to the renaissance of this genre in recent years. Ambient is far from background music anymore. With the increasing number of high quality releases—and new directions pursued by producers like BJ Nilsen, Machinefabriek, and others—it many times is difficult to tell one fabulous producer from the next.  

Enter Pausal, a duo of UK recording artists Simon Bainton and Alex Smalley. With “Lapses,” their first full-length album, Bainton and Smalley show an impressive sense for warm and fluid drone-based ambient music. “Lapses” makes use of guitars, pianos, violins, field recordings and vinyl samples—all highly processed—to create rich and textured soundscapes. These soundscapes do not feature relaxing melodies. Instead, Pausal foregrounds mellow drones and slow moving, shifting ambient textures. This, in short, is an engaging drone album.  

Each composition is deeply layered and engages the listener to explore the music’s depth, the best tracks developing in a slow, deliberate manner.  “Velmead in Common,” perhaps my favorite composition, sets the ethereal tone of the album. It features a slowly morphing soundscape, at times through which a muted piano lightly pierces, creating a sense of delicate bliss. “Velmead” continues its slow build, washing waves of drones unto the listener, before releasing back into silence. The unhurried musical descent in “One Watery Lens”, the delicate ascent of “Malnourished Minds” and the organ-esque quality of “For Forests” kept me eager for more. 

It is hard to find fault with “Lapses.” In fact, I found myself engaged to such an extent that this 68-minute drone album felt surprisingly short. This in itself is staggering, as I have rarely been able to listen attentively to over an hour worth of pure drone without it becoming background music.  

To sum up, “Lapses” is an impressive album. It stands out in a field already notable for high quality releases. Though some have called it “drone-lite” or “easy listening drone,” this should not be seen as a criticism. Pausal has done a great job creating an ambient album accessible to a broader audience, from noise enthusiasts to causal listeners. “Lapses” represents another solid piece of the current Ambient Renaissance. Highly Recommended.  

Jeremy Yellen


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