CATALOG > Blue Day
Robert Scott Thompson has proven himself a composer of the highest caliber, and Blue Day ranks among his finest releases.
- David Hassell
Another successful outing into Robert Scott Thompson’s unique brand of ambient textures.
Takes the quest to the holistic self to its highest plateau! This is essential emotional ambience!
- Jim Brenholts
Ever since I downloaded the mp3 file from Aucourant's mp3 site back in March of 1999, I've been anxiously awaiting the release of Blue Day. During the wait, this mp3 file, which appears on this release under the title "Sign and Symbol," has served as an ambient backdrop on my computer as I surf the web. Now the full release is available from Aucourant Records' new online web catalog along with two other new releases.
While Frontier's flow is episodic and Fountainhead: Cloud Cover is a set of diverse pieces, Blue Day is composed as a thematically cohesive ambient album. It consists of eight titles alternating between short, momentary interludes and longer, more developed compositions. The lengthy numbers, except for the closing piece, give the entire album its overall mood and structure. The shorter works, each from a minute-and-a-half to three minutes in duration, serve as reflection, rest and anticipation.
While Robert Scott Thompson has explored unsettling and disturbing moments in his previous dark ambient material, Blue Day offers some of his most calm, meditative, and peaceful music. Only one brief cult-like male chant opening "Sign and Symbol" appears ominous, but the tone of the rest is almost spiritually serene due to the use of chimes, bell tones, and celestial male sighs. The music also has a wonderful, steady flow to it, carrying the listener effortlessly and calmly along its current. My own impression is that of walking through a sacred temple, filled with mystery and awe.
As with Robert Scott Thompson's other major ambient releases, Blue Day concludes with a rhythmic finale that gives one a sense of home. The rhythm of "Effluence" (Blue Day's closing piece) is set at a steady tempo to maintain the sense of calm and inner peace created by the entire album. It's extremely satisfying.
~ David Hassell
American ambient artist Robert Scott Thompson is continuing to gain well deserved notice for his shimmering dark textures. Firmly rooted in the same sonic landscape as Steve Roach and others, Thompson embellishes on this with his own unique signature. Fans of his prior solo releases will find this much to their liking. The sound is similar to his work on "Frontier" and "The Silent Shore," but it is certainly distinctive enough from those to warrant seeking out. As usual, a variety of sounds and textures are explored, ranging from small vignettes around a minute long, to epic 20-minute masterpieces. Deep drones mix with soft wind chimes on "Origin." "Lattice," as the name implies, is complex, carefully arranged, and delicate. Soft metallic shimmers melt into ominous choirs and assorted atmospheres. It is dark, brooding, and haunting. By contrast, "Illusion of Orderly Progress" is light and beautiful, though practically over by the time you can utter the title. This leads into the first of two centerpieces, the 20-minute "Sign and Symbol." I'm reminded a lot of the minimal ambient drifting of Mathias Grassow, and a little bit of Steve Roach and Robert Rich. Slightly dissonant drones mix with something resembling wood flutes, perhaps flute samples that have been processed in some way. The music swirls in formless fashion, taking both light and dark turns through the mist. "Lament" adds mournful piano to the ambience. This brings us to the 25-minute title track. Male choirs dominate, again lending a dark tone to the proceedings. "Blue Day" is blue indeed, very melancholic, but beautiful. After another very brief track, the disc closes with "Effluence," perhaps the closest Thompson has come to a structured composition with discernible melody. Piano wanders throughout the piece, each note being played very deliberately, with the barest trace of a pause between each note, not quite legato. A female wail is heard, and a simple beating drum. It is a most unusual juxtaposition of musical elements, making for a challenging and interesting way to finish another successful outing into Robert Scott Thompson's unique brand of ambient textures.
~ Phil Derby, Sequences Magazine
"Blue Day" is the latest release from the creative genius of Dr. Robert Scott Thompson (Dr. Bob? My own stuff comes out sometimes!) Robert has established himself as a leading force in the y2k electronic music scene. His textures and atmospheres are surrounded by and surround experimental avant-garde overtones and undertones. On "Air Friction," Robert began attempting to integrate the holistic self. His progression of minimalist releases continued that quest. "Blue Day," a thinker's album, takes that quest to its highest plateau! Through intellectual thought and logic, deep listeners get a stronger understanding of the spiritual and emotional processes. The juxtapositions of intellect and emotionalism, and spirituality are enhanced, embraced and defined! As Dr. William F. Kraft posed in "Ways of the Desert, Becoming Holy Through Difficult Times," the only way to the promised land is through the desert. The longest and most arduous journey known to humankind is from the mind to the heart and soul. Robert has provided a map with directions! This is essential emotional ambience!
~ Jim Brenholts
* * *
Blue Day doesn't sound dated at all, even if the technologies available at the time of its production might seem quaint by today's standards. One of the most obvious yet nevertheless notable things about Blue Day is its blend of short and long pieces: four of the eight are three minutes or less and two tracks are in the twenty- to twenty-five-minute range. The album, which was remastered in 2007, emphasizes meditative settings that induce a state of calm in the receptive listener. Though they're admittedly dwarfed by the two epics, the short pieces are memorable, in large part because Thompson brings the same level of care to them as he does to the longer settings. In contrast to the tinkling wind chimes and low-level drones that dominate “Origin,” “Lament” pairs its minimal piano musings, with electronics while “Disclosure” does the same with acoustic guitar and percussion. In “Lattice,” the soft vocalizing of a choir drifts alongside the murmur of a muted trumpet and shimmering electronics. The album closes in energized manner with “Effluence” where emotive female vocals and spacious piano patterns gently mix with hand drum rhythms.
With respect to the longer settings, a few brief moments of disturbance emerge during “Sign and Symbol” in the form of a male chant at the outset and a female voice halfway through, but otherwise the tone nurtured by the ethereal tones and washes is serene and soothing. The material breathes in slow motion like a time-suspending sigh. The track feels as if it's covered in mist, with an occasional distant sound loud enough to pierce the stillness. Male choir singing, a female's shuddering voice, and what sounds like treated piano playing intermingle throughout the title track, where again moments of turbulence occur without destabilizing the overall balance to any extreme degree. A gamelan character pervades the rather plaintive piece when bell tones and tinkles appear alongside the other elements. Experienced as a whole, Blue Day proves to be a satisfying study in instrumental and temporal contrasts that holds up perfectly well a decade removed from its original release date. Thompson's confident handling of his materials enables his music to hold the listener's attention despite its delicate and understated qualities. His pieces develop slowly but their placid drift never feels aimless but instead purposive, as if a clear destination is in place yet so subtly woven into the music's essence it's not identifiable in any overt sense.
~ Textura (2011)
© 2008 - 2012 Aucourant Records (BMI)