buy this item on itunes
buy this item on emusic

act 149 · l'ombre · simulations 1.0 · cd

trompe-l'oeil, interlocution, living in memory, off course, urban estate, reality loop, far from being, facsimile, synthetic affection, these whispers.

an artist has 10 to 20 years to make his first album and one year for the second one. if a debut is accepted by listeners and reviewers then it has an effect on the artist's future work. expectations aren't easy to ignore and there are only a few musicians who won't be influenced by these reactions. there are three directions an artist can pursue with a follow-up: walk the same path as they did on the first record, change the style radically or use the fundamentals of the debut as a basis for exploration into new spheres. stephen sawyer a.k.a. l'ombre has chosen the third direction.

the mixture of electronic and acoustic sources that lead into mellow, floating soundscapes is sawyer's trademark. that trademark is present on this new record, but it is not a re-hash of older ideas. the first surprising change on "simulations 1.0" is the mood of the ten tracks; the temperature seems to have risen a bit - especially when the release is compared to the icy and colder atmosphere of 'medicine...'. just listen to the piano on 'nowhere' and then to the floating vibraphone on 'interlocution' to feel the difference. in addition l'ombre has also strengthened his rhythms. the pulsating patterns/slight breakbeats intensify the soundscapes and melodies - in short, they complete them. 'facsimile' and 'these whispers' are examples of this unique blend - if you removed the rhythm then the fragile tissue would fall apart.

perhaps, this music is no longer suitable for watching the northern lights but if you listen to this record late at night, you might see previously unseen stars in the clear black sky. once again, the description of "an imagined soundtrack" fits perfectly.

this cd comes in special paper packaging with embossing.

discography l'ombre 10.2k3
2003. cd. simulations 1.0. ant-zen act149
2002. cd. medicine for the meaningless. ant-zen act129

l'ombre website: l'ombre


de muziek die ant-zen uitbrengt is over het algemeen in te delen in twee genres. ten eerste ritmische industrial/noise en op de tweede plaats dark ambient/soundscapes. l'ombre valt in de tweede categorie. simulations 1.0 is de tweede plaat van dit project. de eerste cd medicine for the meaningless is zeer goed ontvangen door pers en luisteraars. op die cd staan ijskoude soundscapes die opgebouwd zijn uit electronische geluiden en akoestisch bronmateriaal. de klankpartijen worden gecomplementeerd door ritmestructuren. het recept is voor deze nieuwe plaat niet veranderd. de klanken zijn wel wat warmer geworden en de ritmes zijn duidelijker aanwezig doordat ze meer op de voorgrond zijn geplaatst. 'living in memory', bijvoorbeeld, is een sfeervol klanktapijt met een naar hip hop neigend ritme. de beats worden langzaam harder en indringender gedurende het nummer. soms zijn de geluiden zo dun dat een nummer door het ritme bij elkaar gehouden wordt. 'synthetic affection' is daar een goed voorbeeld van. l'ombre heeft opnieuw een sfeervolle plaat afgeleverd. ondanks dat simulations 1.0 geen wereld van verschil is met de voorganger is dit toch een interessante cd geworden. (martijn van gessel)

simulations 1.0 is the second album by this dark ambient project. the first cd medicine for the meaningless was very well received by both press and listeners. on that album icy soundscapes built both on electronic sounds and material from acoustic sources were presented. the sounds were complemented by rhythm structures. for this new album the recipe hasn't changed much. although the sounds are a little bit warmer and the rhythms are more evident. 'living in memory', for example, is an atmospheric soundscape with a clear rhythm that hints at hip hop. the beats are building up and become slowly louder as the track evolves. at times the sounds are really thin and only kept together by the rhythm. 'synthetic affection' is a good example of that. l'ombre has again delivered a nice atmospheric album. despite the fact that simulations 1.0 is not very different from its predecessor, it is an interesting cd. the perfect soundtrack for a city at night. (martijn van gessel)

l'ombre hat ein händchen für die perfekte mischung aus darken drones und dicken breaks. und vor allem dafür, dass es genau so nicht klingt, nach düsterem ambient-quatsch, sondern vielmehr nach einfach coolen tracks, die die harmonien ganz weich nach hinten schmelzen und die ameisen krabbeln lassen. ich mag das. (thaddi)
simulations 1.0 ... see website

ant-zen, the audio & visual arts record label based in lappersdorf, germany has introduced the world to a wide spanning view of the darker, more intricate industrial-electronic music scene since the early 90's. this time around, l'ombre (a.k.a. stephen sawyer) presents his 2nd full-length for ant-zen, an album consisting of 10 tracks roaming through 50 minutes of luminous, ear-shattering acoustic electronics. simulations 1.0 leaves a gritty trail unlike any other. delivering intensity, corruption and a simulated reality that could be intentionally opaque. the surreal, underpinned ambiences, magnetic breakbeats, broken rhythms and layered percussion are somehow weaved into and out of the mix as you traverse the cuts on this disc. seemingly meant for complete visual and audible stimulation, the temperature begins to rise midway through; an array of futuristic production cascades through a warm blur of ambience. l'ombre subliminally dips into the negative zone as well; contrasting those warm frequencies with colder melodic tweaks as they flutter above syncopated beats. the result of such a display is an album that is both smooth and agitated at the same time and in just the right places. simulations 1.0 is a framed representation of organized, flowing confusion. aligning layers of simplicity with complexity, l'ombre slices through ambient, industrial, breakbeat and experimentation with emphasis on everything in between. fans of gridlock, tekniq, displacer and codec take note.

o¯ l'on retrouve stephen sawyer alias l'ombre, entité mystérieuse qui nous avait gratifiés l'an demier, d'un medecine for the meaningless des plus envo˛tants. dans le genre ambiant-elecfonica glacée, torl juste recouverte d'un givre de piano mélancolique av¾ simulations 1.0 ilabandonne les grands espaces désertiques pour plonger dans le grouillement de la matrice, autant dire un revirement de fond, mais une initiative que nous ne pouvons que saluer, tant le résulbt en valrt la peine.eneltet, simulations 1.0 est une longue promenade virtuelle o¯ ambiant et downtempo se côtoient, dans une profusion d'atmosphères, de samples malins et une ncnesse ryhmique tode en puissance et en finese sawyer s'illustre réellement, d'ailleurs, dans ce genre de musique nanative son album évoque tod auhnt la science-fiction d'un blade runner, que les brusque montées de tension de la trilogie des frères wachowski, de l'electronica globale et futuriste, comme on aime à en produire chezantzen (mxr)

this starts off like the opening scenes from the terminator, ultra-atmospheric, with a swirling synth and low-end gloomy keyboard pads. l'ombre, aka stephen sawyer, employs this style throughout the album and it works quite intriguingly. slow burning, atmospheric soundscapes throb and probe, joined by bent out of shape breakbeats and barely tangible melodies. sawyer combines these sources and styles well to produce a collection of great filmic backdrops. 'living in memory' is outstanding in this respect. each track brings something new to the table, but manages to pretty much retain the high standard of consistency required for an album of such melodic fragility. the loops and beats underpin the tracks totally, and without them the compositions would fall to pieces. 'simulations 1.0' is great background music for those that don't want to think, but just allow themselves to be enveloped in its rhythmic eccentricity.

sonic seducer
vor einiger zeit kursierte das gerücht durch die welt, dass l'ombre von ant-zen zu warp gewechselt hatte. das es sich hierbei um eine ente handelte, belegt der nachfolger zu "medicine for the meaningless", mit dem l'ombre und ant-zen, um es vorneweg zu nehmen, zum ende letztes jahres, noch ein besonders schmankerl gelungen ist. die eisigen klanglandschaften des vorläufers haben sich nun etwas erwärmt, damit ein dichtes geflecht aus flächen und beats aus ihnen entstehen kann. anfangs noch eindeutig den dunklen wurzeln der vorgänger verpflichtet, hellt "simulations 1.0" von track zu track auf, um schlie§lich bei "reality loop", dem mittel- und höhepunkt des albums, jazz-samples und hip hop beats zu integrieren. trotzdem besteht kein grund zur sorge, dass l'ombre nun vollständig die (musikalischen) seiten gewechselt hat, denn im kern bleiben seine rhythmischen soundscapes die perfekte akustische untermalung für nächtliche fahrten durch entkernte neubausiedlungen. (sascha bertoncin)

this disc maybe should be re-termed "an attack on simulations", as it attempts to re-establish a form of humanity in the cold soulless world of electronics. without adding any form of organic sounds, or naturally human eliminates, l'ombre has taken simple machines and turned them to attack the very world they are harbingers for. the hateful machine is used to generate flowing, humananitic dance beats. realistically groovy body music, and not in a stereotypical dance format way, but in a very human way. waking us up from the drab monotony of our existence, the lack of insight into our everyday movements, the inability to see ourselves as machines: the only purpose we serve is as consuming machines. the day machines can consume we will be useless, and i don't mean consume resources, but actually consume product. to shop. well, that and to perform tasks of which the machine is, as yet inept. the phone operator etc, though in this task, one is required to act as a machine and is unable to communicate one human to another in a human way. okay, i'm little off topic here, but "simulations" evokes this in me (at least). we are all frail humans in dire need of relationships with one another, that is to relate. not sex like we so love to replace companionship with. the desire for companionship and the desire for sex are not one and the same. we need to stop this useless subsistence and start being, began to act as humans: we are not automations. we are human beings, goddamn it, we should start acting like it. well, these are the words i'm putting in l'ombre's mouth anyway. "simulations" is a great piece of soul searching, a call to arms in our useless shadow acting as organic beings. living in cubicles with no real existence. understanding very little of how the image of an object has become less important than the object itself. we operate in the abstract, live in the make believe world. a pornographic experiment in existence: a movie set reality. we parade around in our uniforms of identity trying to establish meaning in our lives, while utterly missing the point that it is all a façade. meaning comes from deep reflection and in the acts of being human. the simple acts that make us stand out and be counted as organic thinking, feeling machines. the spirit in our consciousness: the being in our everyday lives. how to persist to endure. and what is the point, it certainly ain't automation. ummm, okay. and the packaging is really neat too. i mean both the disc and the world. (vigzig)

diesmal hat l'ombre seine dunklen atmosphären in noch mehr idm klarlack eingetaucht. statt des rhythmic noise einflusses, hat er sich mehr dem downbeat zugewandt. jazzige breakbeats, wärmere klänge wie klavier und vibraphon sto§en die klangtüren in ganz andere räume auf als noch zuvor. und in denen ist es genauso spannend wie in den eisigen wandelgängen seines debüts. die assoziativen soundtracks, die der kanadier komponiert, haben an organik gewonnen, die mich stellenweise an alben auf dem hochgeschätzten u-cover label erinnert oder manchen ninja tune adepten. zerbrechlicher ambient, klangverwehungen, ein leichtes aber komplexes beatkorsett, murmelnde wärme, aber trotzdem au§erweltlich und vielfältig nuanciert. so überzeugend das debüt auch war, ich bin froh, dass er sich beim zweitling nicht wiederholt hat. statt sich zu kopieren, hat er neues ausprobiert und die genrehybridisierung konsequent weiterentwickelt. somit hat dieser eigene charakter der stilverwischungen viel mehr einschlagskraft. bin schon sehr auf die nächste ausformung seines musikverständnisses gespannt. (till)

this time around l'ombre dipped his dark atmospheres in even more transparent idm varnish. instead of veering towards the rhythmic noise influences, he chose to travel the downtempo road. jazzy breakbeats, warm instruments like piano and vibraphone open the doors to quite different sound rooms than before. and it is every bit as interesting in those than in the icy hallways of his debut. the associative soundtrack the canadian composes has gained in organic feel which in parts reminds me of albums on the much appreciated u-cover imprint or even select ninja tune adepts. fragile ambient, sound drifts, a light but complex beat corset, murmuring warmth, nevertheless off-worldly and highly nuanced. as convincing as his debut presented itself, i am very happy that in his sophomore effort he chose not to repeat himself. instead of copying his own style, he tried new avenues and determinedly continued to advance the cause of genre hybridization. thus his own character of style bending has won much more stature. it's with much trepidation that i m looking forward to his next musical outing. (till)

le canada deviendrait-il le nouvel épicentre de l'electronica moderne ? on est en droit de se le demander à la vue des nombreux artistes dont la provenance se veut résolument nord-américaine. en tout cas l'ombre ne déroge pas à la règle et propose à son tour sa musique, sa création. s'il fallait définir les grandes lignes de simulations 1.0 ce serait ambiances torturées, plutôt sombres et froides, traversée touristique du large spectre de la musique electronique et son propre, signe d'une production réussie. expérimental ? en partie. outre les habituelles déconstructions sonores en tout genre, visant à créer un phénomène original de nouveauté, d'inexploré, on éprouve la sensation étrange d'être plongé dans un univers remplit d'anachronismes et de réalités avortées. à l'image de interlocution qui se base sur la montée en puissance d'un groove tordu et grésillant, tout sauf digeste. living in memory plus commun, distillant un mélange de longues nappes diffuses, en retrait d'un rythme noisy et en tout point opposé au calme latent de son second plan. en somme, un principe déja vu et revu, mais transformé, changé en quelquechose de plus dur, de plus difficile à assimiler. même idée conductrice sur off course et urban estate, avec cependant une touche plus minimaliste, qui ferait presque office de "griffe" musicale pour l'ombre. à ce stade d'écoute, la principale constatation vient du beat. bien plus en avant que tout le reste, c'est véritablement lui qui donne leur couleur aux morceaux, entre ruguosité et force. autre tendance avec far from being, beaucoup moins explosif et bruitiste, peut-être moins original aussi, en tout cas complexe et mouvant grâce à son atmosphère clôt de drones et bleeps. pour terminer, these whispers emprunte des voies secondaires, longeant à la fois l'experimental pur et le dark ambient le plus sourd, pour une conclusion en forme d'extinction. au final, un travail qui retiendra l'attention des habitués de ant-zen, qui s'essouffle un peu en court de route, mais qui possède tout de même de bonnes tentatives d'aller voir ailleurs ce qu'il s'y passe.

back - next - overview