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act 129 á l'ombre á medicine for the meaningless á cd

nowhere. disappear. ressentiment. vagrant. on the beach. worthless. atheist. syzygy. trailblazer

"behind all that is conscious is unconscious
behind all that is known there is unknown
behind all that exists there is shadow."
(stephen sawyer)

unique sounds are hard to find, but there have been and there will always be young, creative artists who surprise labels and - hopefully - listeners.

a demo cd-r sent to us by canadian musician and poet stephen sawyer caused enthusiastic comments on anthill. yes, we wanted to sign his yet unknown project l'ombre and now ant-zen proudly presents the phantastic debut album of this artist.

what l'ombre's works are about: atmosphere. hypnotizing ambient soundscapes that makes you want to listen and feel. let yourself go, drift away into a haze of images and scenes. the mood of this record can be described as 'icy ambience'. cold drones meld perfectly with sounds of electronic and even acoustic instruments. watch the northern lights while listening - if you can't, just close your eyes, then you will see...

'medicine for the meaningless' can be described as a fascinating, imagined soundtrack with a great variety. listeners who chill out will find themselves drawn happily into the details upon repeated listenings.

highly recommended.

discography 09.2k2:
medicine for the meaningless. cd. ant-zen act129. 2002

l'ombre website: l'ombre


toronto industrial kollektive
all right i'm not sure how disseminated this release is going to become, but if you hear of anything by l'ombre grab it fast. medicine is a perfect combination of slow percussive grooves and cold sparse electronic. much of the disc is concerned with creating chilling ambient soundscapes, which invoke images of being lost in distant city unable to communicate with the inhabitants, while the clouds gather around a full moon, when suddenly a cold january wind cuts across your face: listen to medicine and this will all make sense. the percussion is generally break-beaty, and the groove is really quite nice, sort of reminds you that you are still human and alive, as your body begins swaying to the rhythms in ritualistic hedonism. the textures somewhat remind me of coil's ambient work, however in a very different context. in a word l'ombre is chilling, but in the best possible way... it eats at your soul and opens up the skies for the rains of calamities, while causing you to sort of forget your place, and cheer for the end of the world. lost in ambience the world crashes around you, but the hypnotic sway of medicine reminds you that it is all for the best. the world may end, but what right had we to think otherwise. (vigzig)

club metropolis
from the famous and brilliant record label ant zen comes a brand new project from canada called l«ombre. it is a one man project made up by stephen sawyer who sent a demo cd to ant zen, and then immediately got signed. i have never heard of l«ombre before, but i can already say that i'm really surprised with his debut album, "medicine for the meaningless". the record label ant zen is mostly known for their power noise releases and experimental releases. l«ombre is without a doubt an experimental release. the music on "medicine for the meaningless" is simply brilliant. the music is generally really slow and atmospheric, except for the track "worthless", which is something of a cross between dark ambient and power noise. the track "ressentiment" consists of slow, noisy rhythms with a good melodic sound in the background, and reminds me a bit of a track from the first axiome album (side project from imminent). "vagrant" also has a very melodic sound and slow rhythms. the highlight of the album is the aforementioned track, "worthless", which is seething with atmosphere and has a brilliant melody. "medicine for the meaningless" has a unique and atmospheric sound that again sounds a bit like a cross between some different genres like power noise and dark ambient. don't expect an album with any violent tracks on the cd, however. l«ombre is a very interesting new project that has made a masterpiece of an album. imagine an album that is a mixture in between bands like gridlock & axiome... you really can't ask for more! (brain)

phosphor magazine
phantastic debut album of this artist. what l'ombre's works are about: atmosphere. hypnotizing ambient soundscapes that makes you want to listen and feel. let yourself go, drift away into a haze of images and scenes. the mood of this record can be described as 'icy ambience'. cold drones meld perfectly with sounds of electronic and even acoustic instruments. 'medicine for the meaningless' can be described as a fascinating, imagined soundtrack with a great variety. listeners who chill out will find themselves drawn happily into the details upon repeated listenings.

black #29
brrr - eisig und schneidend tobt am anfang von "nowhere" der polarsturm, einsam flackert das nordlicht und helle klaviertonfolgen klingen wie splitterndes eis. beim zweiten track "disappear" gesellen sich soundtrackatmosphŠren und industrieller sounds hinzu, um ab track "ressentiment" immer rhythmischer zu werden. doch trotz aller folgenden distortion beats hat man nie das gefŸhl, mit l'ombre ein weiteres neues tech-industrial-projekt vor sich zu haben, denn diese werden unauffŠllig atmosphŠrisch und hypnotisch in das klangbild eingearbeitet. die debŸt-cd des kanadiers stephen sawyer entstand durch die begeisterung fŸr seine demo-cd-r, welche im ant zen-hauptquartier landete und auch ich bin Ÿber diesen newcomer mehr als nur begeistert! man kann es auch als geheimnisvolle ozillationen in antiseptischen rŠumen oder das gro§e gefŸhl der leere, verbunden mit der sehnsucht nach einem hšheren sinn beschreiben, aber auf jeden fall stecken unheimlich viele emotionen und visionen in diesem album. dazu pa§t auch die info, dass stephen sawyer sich neben l'ombre auch als poet betŠtigt und die hšrer, welche vom letzten biosphere-album enttŠuscht waren, kšnnten hier fŸndig werden! (m.f.)

this is a stellar debut. not only does it fascinate with new sounds but also sparkles with a breathtaking variety of styles, moods and combinations. it's like a great mix of the icy drifts of ambre and the grating drones and gritty electronics of azure skies. it then introduces idm beats and warm gridlock'ian atmospheres. stephen sawyer is the canadian behind this project, who was signed by ant-zen on the strength of his first demo alone. and what a catch they made. granted, the elements are all tried and done by bands like bad sector, lustmord, lusine icl, autechre, mental destruction, etc, but sawyers fuses them into an ambient soundtrack that reveals its treasures already under rudimentary inspection. it is a true listening experience right from the first piano melody over howling wind in the beginning via subdued, rhythmic noise to its sound washes and catacumbal echoes in the end. you are instantly whisked away into a fictitious world built from sounds and mental images that constantly change. there's so many little details and clever little ideas, the combination of ambience and idm'ish noise for instance, that its uniqueness makes me hit the repeat button like a mad man. a more than definite recommendation. (till)

ant-zen has reached a status as a label, when the bands it brought to popularity grow in numbers; at the same time there really is no other label of the same statue, that is able to provide adequate quality of packaging and distribution that would be suited to carry these projects. the status of ant-zen has gradually shifted from pioneers of the genre to established and expected taste-setters, the position that at times feels almost restrictive towards accepting new names. this trend that will manifest itself more and more, gradually altering even further the position of the label in the eyes of its long-time fans. this is why I am so pleasantly surprised to see new names, and especially new names that create music as good as this debut release by l'ombre. medicine for the meaningless is a collection of quiet ambient pieces that flow along echoing technoid drones, slow pulses that appear and dissolve in the waves of deep strings and dark organic textures unfolding in vast open spaces. the closest comparison I can come up with would be chapter red by starfish pool with rhythmic textures pushed further and further into the background, fading and coming back, often disjointed, irregular, stripped down. both artists acutely feel the depth and richness of cold organic textures, all the more obvious, since their music is so minimal at first sight. at the same time both are able to strike a delicate balance with the rhythmic nature of their sound. this subtlety, this very composed, very somber feel is immediately captivating and stays with you throughout this album, as it slowly moves through the spaces filled with echoes, remnants of slowly ricocheting abrasive beats dissolved in shadows, tugging at the traces of delicate memories with a sentimental string or a slowly dripping key progression. this album is almost a sure pick for anyone that has a taste for modern electronica, it is for anyone that is after the music that possesses voluminous spaces and boldly defined shapes, but at the same has plenty of nuances, subtleties and tact, not overwhelming its listener. medicine for the meaningless is one of the most impressive debuts on the label as of late. (anton)

as a label, ant-zen is consistent. as a listener, you know what you're going to get from an ant-zen release, and i don't say this in a bad way -- i'm a huge fan of the music which comes out of the anthill -- but i approach their releases with an awareness of what i'm going to hear. the real trick is when they pop something into my head which makes me wonder if all the rules have changed. l'ombre's medicine for the meaningless challenges every other act on the ant-zen roster to graduate themselves to the next level of complexity or be left behind. not a bad trick for a newcomer. in this case, one stephen sawyer, resident of canada. operating with the mantra of "...behind all that exists there is shadow," sawyer disappears into l'ombre and delivers an hour of rhythmic ambient music which is equally claustrophobic and aurally expansive. medicine for the meaningless opens with "nowhere," a winter wind howling across empty moors. somewhere just beyond a hillock or copse of broken trees is a tiny shed with gaping holes in the walls and ceilings so that the wind can toy with an abandoned piano that has been left there. call this "fugue for wind and piano," "nowhere" scours clean your mental landscapes as the wind fills your head and the oddly arrhythmic piano melody captivates your lung sacks until you find yourself holding your breath, waiting for the next note to find its way through the wind. the song titles are landmarks of desolation. "disappear" continues the reluctant melody of "nowhere," adding rhythmic noise patterns to a steady tonal melody. heavy washes of sound breathe in and out around the listener. to disappear is to have your identity subsumed under the weight of the sound. all that remains is the melancholic melody which, like a pterodactyl trapped on the surface of a tar pit, is slowly being dragged under by the fields of noise rising around it. "ressentiment" [sic] follows this bird-creature down under the black surface, slow bubbles of trapped gases rise past it as it sluggishly falls towards the black bottom. imagine the building pressure as the weight of the surface increases overhead, imagine the hissing sound in your ears as they start to bleed, imagine the force exerting itself against your heart as you struggle to breath. "on the beach" echoes nevil shute's apocalyptic book of the same name. restless beats scamper around the processed sound of waves breaking on the shore. global wind patterns are bringing nuclear fallout to the shore. all you can do is wait, and the waiting starts to get under your skin after awhile. you start to get edgy and restless. after the nietzschean "god is dead!" rumble of "atheist," l'ombre takes us on a pharmaceutical ride with "syzygy," a mental flight on beat-paths laid out through the throb and click of celestial space. the last track, "trailblazer," wanders into silence as those records which want to hide a bonus track do, but in l'ombre's case, the silence works as part of the experience. melding equal parts gridlock and tarmvred, sawyer has taken the best parts of rhythmic ambient and noisy idm which the last few years have offered and gone off in his own direction. we're just following his lead and, for a few minutes in the middle of "trailblazer" we are lost, surrounded by silence. finally he calls us on again, lost from view but still somewhere ahead. medicine for the meaningless is a fabulous debut, a record which all of 2003 will be hard pressed to match. (mark teppo)

two things came to mind immediately. kk null's "terminal beach", and akira kurusawa's "dreams". "medicine for the meaningless" features the kinds of sounds that my more tolerant friends describe sarcastically as "palatte cleansing". i, of course enjoy them, (the sounds, not the friends,) immensely. ahem. now, there is a danger, when one says, "this reminds me of kk null" that readers will think "file under null" and never wish to hear the sounds at hand for themselves. it's rather as if you never try mahi-mahi (a wonder- ful kind of white fish,) just because you've already had cod. comparing kk null to cod is most definitely an insult, but hopefully you get the idea. the sounds are not the same. l'ombre is ambiently and rhythmically more grounded in the organic world than null's anti-matter sound. there is a something-ness to l'ombre that is purposefully not present in minimalist and aggressive noise. that something-ness is why i am reminded of kurusawa. if you've not seen kurusawa's "dreams", do. i've not seen it for a long while, but i recall a part of it happens in bitter cold, and part of it happens in an awful sequence about a tunnel. i recall that what i felt in my gut while watching it, feels the same as listening to this work. i remember the film haunted me. i remember that when i was done watching all of the movie, i cried; it was exhaustion, and some strange, empty, eternal kind of peace, or joy, or... there are places where words end. these recordings touch the edges of those places, and so does the movie. i might even suggest watching the movie "dark side of the moon/wizard of oz" style with this cd. that is, put on kurusawa's "dreams" and l'ombre's "medicine for the meaningless" and see what happens. mainly, i want to say try these sounds for yourself. spend time with them in headphones. first there is only the blizzard. then the suggestion of life beneath ice. thunder spreads bright. the journey through these sounds is an amazing one. there is warmth at the belly of the cold. (saint petrol)

so schnell kann es manchmal gehen. da sendet stephen sawyer eine cd-r an das label ant-zen und prompt hat er einen vertrag in der tasche. das nun im september erschienene debutalbum "medicine for the meaningless" von sawyers projekt l'ombre verdeutlicht, warum der kanadier so schnell in den kreis der erlauchten kŸnstler des ant-zen-labels aufgenommen wurde. l'ombre erschafft auf "medicine for the meaningless" eine dŸstere und schwermŸtige ambientwelt. in sich gekehrt lauscht man den ruhigen melodien, die mit gerŠuschen und verzerrten tšnen unterlegt sind. so hšrt man bei "nowhere" den wind rauschen oder bei "ressentiment" eine art herztšne. diese soundeffekte stehen jedoch nicht im vordergrund, sondern unterstŸtzen die teils stille teils bedrŸckende atmosphŠre. der mit dem reinen pianotrack "nowhere" sehr ruhige einstieg in das album wird bei "ressentiment" wieder unterbrochen. der song rei§t einen sehr schnell aus der lethargie, sieht man sich doch auf einmal einem wahren industrial-noise-ungetŸm a la converter gegenŸber. durch seine schonungslosigkeit und seine tanzbaren, verzerrten beats ist dieser track eine wahre perle auf dem album. ganz im gegensatz dazu steht beispielshalber "on the beach", das schon von seinem titel her nicht auf aggressivitŠt schlie§en lŠsst. ob man die wellen rauschen hšrt? oh ja. ein sehr stimmungsvoller track, allein getragen durch die melodie, genauso wie die folgenden tracks. "medicine for the meaningless" ist ein album, auf das man schon lange gewartet zu haben scheint. stephen sawyer legt ein beeindruckendes debut vor, das mit spannung auf die nŠchsten veršffentlichungen warten lŠsst. (veit)

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