The Finding





The Finding is an experimental Ambient album by game musician and sound designer Kevin Patzelt from San Francisco. The clear focus lies on grinding electric guitars, hissy static noise and intense synth strings. The front cover gives a hint in terms of the predominant mood: this is a dark, intimidating album with a clear Rock attitude and a few punk elements. 3 out of 9 tracks tracks are beatless Ambient pieces, while the remaining songs offer many percussion-, rhythm- and bass line-related surprises. What qualifies this release as Ambient music is the multiple layers of the synth strings; while the mood evokes wastelands of despair every so often, there are soothing passages scattered throughout each song. Although I'm mentioning the term song, Patzelt has a particular viewpoint on his album. He says that The Finding is more about "tonal sound design" rather than music. He thus describes the nature of drone music perfectly, and this is another important ingredient of this album. The addition of multiple layers and their slow distortion leads to a white-washed sound. The listener cannot distinguish the former clarity of the instruments anymore. Drones of harsh static noise are everything that is left. Be aware that this is a special and unusual kind of Ambient music, so if you don't like noise or the electric guitar which is used as a signature instrument on each track, let alone the punk percussion on a few tracks, you should definitely pre-listen to the album, especially to the 3 Ambient tracks which could be right up your alley in the end.


Beholden is the opener and mimics a Blade Runner-esque, Vangelis-like mood with 80's synth pads, angelic strings and piano droplets. While the track itself isn't minimal due to the flittering percussion together with the dubby bass lines and the swirling bells, the synth pads themselves are vestigial, but after almost 3 minutes the track reaches its peak with an ethereal crescendo of airy textures and quavering, sustained strings of an electric guitar. To That Which Binds Me starts with distant temple bells, tremendously soothing and mysteriously echoey strings in unison with chopped up electric guitars. 3 minutes into the song, it reaches a clarion, dangerous climax with abyssal bass lines and extremely distorted strings – suddenly, all hell breaks loose as Dreissk takes the song into a proper cymbal-laden punk track that is intertwined with Big Beat elements. The Orb's Montagne D'Or comes to mind on more than one occasion, and the surprising twist is equally terrific in Dreissk's track. Even though the distortion is overdriven, the added beats bring a powerful energy into the mix which is much appreciated. A great song! Depart is next and is as soothing as To That Which Binds Me was powerful: various slightly cacophonous and eerie strings are merged together and shortly thereafter, hammering, metallic synth pads increase the tempo while strings of contentment and cherubic synth areas function as a befitting counterpart to the stormy atmosphere. By then, the track has left Ambient territory long ago and displays a certain Rock attitude. Unknown Discontent starts with cold, machine room-like background drones and high-pitched, echoey kick drums. Fragile electronic vibraphone melodies are the only small glimpses of brightness in the mechanical, dangerous surroundings of the track. Yet again does the percussion increase the tension after a few minutes while eschatological electric guitar strings evoke a wasteland.


Persisting Memory is a pure, beatless Ambient track that starts with a pastiche of tremoling guitar strings, sky high static noises and artificial rain drop percussion. The multiple layers of strings increase both in quantity and intensity, and the typical screeching noise of the electric guitar is used as a purposefully element of unease. Emergence is a surprisingly warm track, but as usual, a glooming danger is always perceptible. Crackles and wobbling synth strings are the predominant elements of this 10+ minute long track. Chirpy, unexpectedly joyful synth pads fade in; after a few minutes, a pompous percussion sets in with a majestic, powerfully polyphonous string melody. This song harks back to the typically vespertine melodies of old C64 or Amiga shoot 'em ups. Since the song is a lot brighter than the other ones, I would even consider counting it to dark Synth Pop territory – of course, the pop factor is razor thin, but you get the picture. Not Enough fades in slowly with synth strings that are complemented with additional layers and permanent fragments of static noise; the noise is never distracting, though. After over 4 minutes, breakbeats are introduced and add edginess to the track which itself is intensified by glacial drones. Disappearance is the second proper Ambient track and without a doubt the most accessible song off The Finding. It is the most relaxing tune with its mellow, ghostly flitterings, warm synth strings, acoustic guitar pluckings and tremoling but soft static noise. There's even a distant flute melody included, and while the tension of the track rises during the end, the song remains relaxing and comforting. Naturally, this is the strongest track for Ambient lovers, and the warmth it delivers is welcome. Floating To Drown is the final track and moves once more into Ambient territory, this time reminiscent to the soundscape of Thom Brennan, but with a greater focus on distorted strings and fragile clicks. The dubby bass line is deep, and the clear cut guitar melody shimmers dreamily due to the reduced string setup and the laid back percussion. However, the massiveness of the strings increases and after 5 minutes, the melody is barely audible and is substituted with overdriven strings and horrific noise swarms which fade out slowly.


Dreissk successfully mixes elements that don't fit together: the ambience is as important a factor as is the electric guitar that adds a scintilla of Prog Rock, the punchy percussion that resembles Punk songs and the overdriven drones which add a pinch of Grunge to the album. If these elements already bewilder you when you're just reading about them, you will certainly be put off by their unison when you're listening to The Finding. It is, after all, a distinct album for a certain audience that needs to acquiesce all of the above things in order to enjoy the album. I am curiously attracted by the sounds of Dreissk, all the more so because these elements are alien to me, for I do not listen to much Grunge and Punk music. The respective elements, mind you, are magnificent additions for they are amplified and mangled so strongly that their harshness and destructive powers are almost clichéd, which they are not due to the infrequent merging of these elements in other Ambient music, The Orb being one of these exceptions, as mentioned before. If you prefer dark Ambient sounds with intensely ethereal soundscapes and grinding drones, this album will suit your need for sure. It is only in parts relaxing, so be aware of it. If you're fed up with mellow, bright and soft Ambient music, consider Dreissk's offering as a redeeming U-turn.




Ambient Review 039: Dreissk – The Finding (2011). Originally published on Feb. 22, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.