Dark ambient music may well be a dime a dozen these days, especially on CD-R releases, yet if the sumptuous cover of this luxuriant recording does not grab you, the premise and scientific maestro behind Horchata may well do.
Horchata is Michael Palace, a research scientist for the University of New Hampshire's Complex System Research Center where he studies necromass (dead wood) from the Amazon, his vocation allowing for his avocation in his sojourns to the rainforest where he records in the field.
A thematic album, "Coleoid" explores the world of the cephalopods, their ecosystem in the intense pressure of deep oceans and abysms across four tracks encompassing an hour long descent into the alien worlds lost in the nigritude speckled with the occasional noctilucae we have barely explored save by science.
Less a work of drones than of heteroclitic samples that inspissate the sub-aquatic with beautiful and grotesque lineaments, espied as they divulge their privacy to the listener.
Almost sub-audibly, pulses populate this world but not the push and pull of the littoral shore, but the compression of the deep layered in drifting currents and fed by stalagmite fumaroles with its abundance of nourishment and life, fizzling and roiling the only current in the chasmic adytum. No percussion soaked in reverb obscures the crystal ambience, the sway and yawn of the briny deep swallows all, distributing over thousands of miles both up and down.
Given the purely ambient fare on offer one could be forgiven for expecting an hour's worth of unmemorable somnolence but the hoary atavism that Horchata presents is intriguing in its ability to present so much with so seemingly little in texture compared to other modern dark ambient projects, and it is this subtlety that is surprising and greatly welcome with the dearth of unique ambient music these days.
With Michael Palace as interlocutor one truly gets the sense of the tremendous depths presented as aural pressure and the foreign life-forms inhabiting such an immemorial world.
Given the quality of this CD-R release one would be surprised at the high quality product that Afe Records has delivered, making this quite the jewel to cherish. Printed on heavy stock card, with offset printed full colour artwork that is elegantly designed to match the overall thematic basis of the music, we find the Coleoid, a nautilus shell spilling strange tendrils into the nearly opaque oceanic floor illumed with deep sea luminescence. An oversized card four-page booklet, the artwork continues within, facing the liner notes, curling around the disc succinctly designed.