Simon Scott is an Ambient artist and film musician from Cambridge, UK. His music oscillates between drone sounds, shimmering synths and careful doses of electric guitars. Scott thus continues the curious trend of this decade: a considerable number of works by various artists consists of predominantly Ambient music which mixes distantly cacophonous and slightly eerie ingredients with grimy, punk-like percussion. Bunny can be counted to this specific Ambient style that is also inherited by artists such as Dreissk and Erik K. Skodvin alias Svarte Greiner on whose label, Miasmah, this album is released. Skodvin incidentally provides the artwork as well. Scott's latest album contains 8 tracks and is shuttling between three Ambient ingredients: there are for one both mechanical and ethereal drone elements. Then there are various hisses, crackles and clicks added. And finally, as I've already mentioned, there are electric guitar strings of different moods on every track. While I am usually getting nervous about reading of guitars in Ambient music due to my fear of lackadaisical pluckings and folk song resemblances, Scott fortunately delivers a multilayered and coherent album. Some of the tracks are even outright towering after the very first listen, and while there are usually no catchy melodies anywhere, the interplay of the textures with the percussion created on a real drumkit plus Scott's haunting voice are always interesting at worst and gargantuan at best.
No insult intended: the album opener AC Waters oscillates quickly between two highly incompatible but equally surprising styles that don‘t fit together but are intertwined for this very reason. The first opening notes are reminiscences of a Himalayan New Age style with airy synth strings and acoustic guitar pluckings. Shortly afterwards, the track morphs into hot-blooded Latin territory for a short time due to the inclusion of Flamenco-like guitar chords. If you are bewildered by my description, don't worry too much, as the mood shifts one last time by providing incisively high-pitched strings, fragments of ghostly artifacts and pulsating static noises that fade out quite quickly, making room for the next track Betty with bass guitar notes, muffled mumblings, soothing strings and screeching, sustained electric guitars which are the most dominant layer, all the while the bass pluckings continue gently. However, a few minutes into the track, cymbals and hi hats are added; the track reaches its peak and ends with sizzling hot guitars that evoke a dusty wasteland. Labano is similar in style to Lusine Icl's Language Barrier in that it starts with a fuzzy field recording of a supposed subway recorded in transit while a long moment of peace follows next with slowly played notes on a punchy piano. Fragile crackles accompany the setting and soon, soft percussion on a drum kit is introduced and intermingled with mysterious drone sounds, bells and frizzles. Radiances is the centerpiece and another soothing track with electric guitar strings. Yet again, the mood is enhanced and spiced with percussion on a real drum kit. Scott is singing unrecognizable, blurry vocals while the atmosphere morphs into ecstatic and positive realms with richly textured synth strings in major that are warm and deep. The last 2 minutes are utterly gorgeous, as the percussion wanes and all that remains are the same synth string drones which overflow the setting and form a monumentally ecstatic addendum to the album. A towering track that is entirely positive and pristine.
Black Western Lights consists entirely of the pulsating chirping of electronic birds and screeching electric guitar backings that grow larger and eerier while the track progresses. The formerly peaceful mood shifts into darker territories when the melody fades out and leaves only burning crackles and pops playing. The following Honeymoon is a surprisingly effective addition to Bunny's style. The track carries fantastically melodious electric and steel guitar layers which are intertwined with enchanting, glacial synth strings, Scott's chants and gentle crackles that appear at the end. This is the best track on the album for me, and one of the very few guitar-heavy Ambient arrangements that truly work and offer an exciting interplay. Utterly beautiful! Gamma is yet another exciting track that offers another very attractive mixture of two different styles: Far Eastern temple bells, dark bass guitar strings, ubiquitous crackles and occasional clicks are connected with remnants of a Mexican or Wild West flavor. Sky high metallic synth noises float by, and mouth organ-like strings draw a glimmering desert in the head of the listener. This is a purely beatless Ambient track that sounds cohesive despite its two colliding styles. Drilla is the noisy and screeching closing track that is terribly gloomy and danger-evoking at first but grows more majestic due to bright electric guitar strings and soothing percussion. The static noise fest, however, remains all the time until the track fades out all of a sudden, making room for 30 seconds of warbled violin strings that mark the definite end of the album.
Bunny is an album that merges and oscillates between various styles – and Simon Scott does it always successfully. It is coherent in its presentation of various synthesizer melodies, strings and flavors. While the majority of the tracks isn't remarkably outstanding at first, they do grow after a few listening sessions. Honeymoon and Gamma differ from the above observation because they are magnificently powerful tracks, as are the last 2 minutes of Radiances that should please fans of soothing drone music. Even though the electric guitars are usually screeching, Scott never succumbs to gimmicky atmospheres of despair and gloominess. A certain uneasiness is often attached to the tracks, but all in all, I would say that the album contains positive vibes as well as sections of pure bliss. If you are wary about electric guitars and classic drum kits, you might dislike Bunny, as they remain important elements in the majority of the tracks. If you are unsure, pre-listen to the tracks mentioned in this paragraph and find out whether you can ignore the beautiful string washes of Simon Scott. This is definitely an album that grows on you, and a whopping 3 out of 8 tracks unveil their glistening qualities immediately and are thus suited for a quick consumption if your hectical life is precious to you.
Simon Scott's Twitter account is @Keshhhhhh.
Ambient Review 043: Simon Scott – Bunny (2011). Originally published on Feb. 29, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.