Robert Scott Thompson
EMF Media — Electronic Music Foundation
Sanctum marks the 2nd release on EMF Media from composer Robert Scott Thompson. Again working in the field of electroacoustic music – much like his previous EMF CD ‘Acousma’ – Sanctum incorporates a diverse collection of raw sound sources edited, processed, re-synthesized and morphed into nine distinct tracks. Sound sources include crotales, metallics, vocal sounds and violoncello. With Sanctum, Robert Scott Thompson once again displays why he is one of the most highly regarded modern composers today.
Two recordings listed below stand apart from the “Ten Best” list which follows because of how atypical they each are compared to the rest of the releases as well as how each one represents an unparalleled achievement in musical vision as well as an amazingly rich listening experience. I simply couldn’t place them into the usual ambient category since their “sound” is so unlike the other albums here.
Like its sonic (not chronological) predecessor, Acousma, Sanctum travels the path of abstract musicality through the sonic manipulation of assorted (and sometimes unexpected) sound sources, leading the adventurous listener to landscapes of startling yet idiosyncratic beauty.
It’s an album to be savored and experienced in rapt attentive detail.
– Bill Binkleman
As an admirer of Robert Scott Thompson, one gets used to throwing around words such as “amazing”, “stupendous” and “surreal”, but with this new CD one tends to search for new words.
This electroacoustic work, based on many and varied sound sources (winds, voices, pure electronics, etc), and where even the titles are pure poetry, RST breaks, for me at least, new ground with dramatic and surreal musical beauty. Here, for instance, low-frequency rumblings are more pronounced than on perhaps any RST CD I’ve heard, which results in a slightly ominous mood at times (but as all horror fans know, ominous moods can be very juicy). The tonal clusters and sculptural sound shifts invites the listener into a world of sublime and sometimes eerie beauty, and I do not hesitate to put this CD amongst RSTs 4-5 best. This is (yes, I know I sound like a parrot) amazing, stupendous and (you guessed it) surreal music, and those not perceptive enough to enjoy it should have their heads examined.
– Ulf Claesson
This release from 2007 features 71 minutes of electro-acoustic music.
Electronic tonalities conspire with orchestral elements to produce moody atmospheric that embody classical and ambient sensibilities.
Haunting textures waft on sedate breezes. Electronic effects include: harnessed feedback, burbling diodes, and manipulated mechanical noises. These aspects surface periodically throughout the songs, only to submerge in a churning orchestral miasma. Actually, the electronics are mostly understated, remaining a subliminal factor in the tunes.
The music’s major presence is orchestral. These contributions are generally harmonic, reminiscent of the period when an orchestra is tuning up, before they get to any definite melody. Sawing cellos mutter through cracks in the flow. Pensive woodwinds sigh in the distance or tweet with petulant emphasis. Ranks of violins moan softly, generating a protracted tension.
Percussion doesn’t really play a major part in this tuneage, although chimes and bells are featured in an incidental manner, more as punctuations than as rhythms.
These compositions establish a moody ambience tinged with an intellectual air mainly attributable to the orchestral dominance throughout the pieces. This instrumentation tends to walk a fine line between ambient and abstract classic music, but the result is definitely a calming one with an undercurrent of cerebral agitation.
– Sonic Curiosity