Martina Lussi – “Selected Ambient”

Where to start on this gossamer-fine release? An intrinsically woven, four-track album, this feels like a spiders web brushing the aural senses. Do I compare Martina Lussi’s work to other “Selected Ambient …” works? No, I will let it continue to plough its own furrow.

On the LP “Selected Ambient,” Martina Lussi brings together a collection of material from her practice to date – from the start to the present. The music oscillates between electroacoustic composition, sound art, and live performance; this is not the fuzzy-feel-good tones associated with most ambient.

The pieces, named after semi-precious gemstones, all of which are traditionally ascribed to having special powers. In using these names, the artist seems to refer to the esoteric roots of the genre invoked by the LP’s title. But that is where it ends; the compositions within the LP resist the genre’s characteristically naïve re-enchantment of the world, and they distrust holistic esotericism’s promise of healing and restoration.

“Selected Ambient” album is not a naive body of music.

The gemstones don’t speak, and they don’t convey the mythical forces ascribed to them—rather, they rest in their own materiality. They don’t want to affect or influence—they simply want to exist as witnesses of/to the ultimately incommensurable reality that lives beyond our own horizon.

In these four compositions that make up the album, as in other works, Lussi creates a sound world in which circling correlations raise more questions than they answer – in contrast to esotericism, which insists on imbuing its material with meaning. Lussi, therefore, facilitates a listening experience that refers to ambient at its best and most radical: her music represents neither a dissolution of the self in complete uncertainty nor a contemplative internal landscape, but rather a tremulous hovering over the border between the two.

Melancholy in nature – this beautiful album will leave you shredded. An album you put on to hide from the world. Released on Hallow Ground 22nd November 2017.

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