Various Artists
The Power Of

Movement In Plants EP






Nature and Ambient music. Yep, that fits together and has been coupled so many times that the concept of nature-driven Ambient music itself has become a cliché. However, it’s a cliché that needs to be kept alive due to its warmth and the plasticity a good field recording device has to offer. The first release of the Rome-based Records is about to kick off an interesting concept in May 2012 by merging terrific music of skilled artists with an overall concept that can be a guide to the listener in interpreting or understanding the given material. Now things like these have been done before, no question. Compilations of all kinds are never arbitrary, but assemble songs that altogether match certain styles, years or other criteria. The context on this first release differs, though. The Power Of Movement In Plants is the name of the EP, but actually also the name of one of Charles Darwin’s last books, published in 1880. Darwin teamed up with his son Francis in order to find questions about what makes plants grow and move, since plants are no animals. Darwin came up with the concept of a brain in the radicle of each plant, so that the plant is not only dependent on light and gravitation, but is also able in a very limited way to act autonomically. What does this concept have to do with electronic music? Well, one interpretation could be that electronic music starts with Ambient structures as their nucleus and branches off into different categories, styles and subgenres, thus making Ambient the royal discipline of them all. Now wouldn’t that be nice? You see, this juxtaposition – or rather intermingling – of Darwin’s idea with three tracks by Italian artists in the field of electronic music lets the listener ponder, and this is no bad thing at all, as long as the music is good as well. And I can verify this being the case. One Ambient track by the duo of Massimiliano Loretucci and Riccardo Frosoni, better known as Commodity Place is featured on side A, while side B congregates one Detroit track by passEnger aka Andrea DiMaggio and a surprisingly fierce techno piece by Cosmic Metal Mother, the project of Paolo Di Nola. Read more about the unexpected conclusions and counteractions of Darwin’s concept and these three tracks below.


The EP takes off with Soils by Commodity Place, and it’s a long, almost 13 minutes long proper Ambient track. It starts with a lush field recording of birds and a streaming creek nearby. A glacial three-note theme is looped while the field recording fades out slowly. Now it’s time for the majestically deep background synths sweeps to shimmer as they build a formidable synthesis with the frostiness and additional iridescent bells whose reverb floats through the whole space that Soils creates. Only when additional elements in the forms of resplendent-ethereal synth washes and crystalline clockwork-like whirrings get louder does it become apparent that the track is actually structured upon a three-four time signature. Once the track fades out, nature is taking over again via another spin of the vibrantly lush woods-and-meadows field recording. Similar in style to the melancholic works of Vir Unis but actually inspired by the output of Pete Namlook, Soils is an entirely beatless piece, puts a strong focus on the frosty, heavenly brightness and is easy to grasp, almost vestigial in its melodies that are only slightly enhanced. That’s Ambient in a grain … a grain that is vegetating with grandeur.


Side B pushes the aspect of movement that is mentioned in the title of the EP into the limelight, and this very light shimmers in ominous red colors on passEnger’s six-minute skit Is This For Real? which broadens the variety of the EP with a Detroit downtempo scheme that leaves more than enough room for an Ambient branch. In fact, this branch is the initial point, as the lavishly sustained two-note synths are impelled by an arcane mystery and saturnine dusk. The mood is apocalyptic, its deepness heavy. When punchy beats are added after 40 seconds, the track is morphing into an eclectic thicket with enhanced, slightly brighter synth strings and oscillating galactic drones. passEnger conglomerates a mercurial spectre in form of the Ambient synths which is then advected into the opulent beat-driven structure. Is This For Real? is hauntingly baneful, yet peaceful and rather fragile despite its pumping beats. It is definitely retro in its synth setup, but futuristic in its incisively agitating beat approach. The last track is by Cosmic Metal Mother, and since this is breaking each and every boundary of, I won’t go into too much detail here. Appropriately titled The Unreleased Techno Mixes Series (comunicazione uno), the track displays a new, temporary shift in Paolo Di Nola’s style. Instead of the Balearic beats and glitzy Synth Pop borrowings of his recent single Italian Cowboy, his music is indubitably unrecognizably harsh and hard like a rock. Quickly pulsating beats are interspersed with high-pitched machine-like noises, bleepy pulses, saucy hand claps, repeated fragments of muffled chit-chat and one astonishing moment of clarity and bliss in the shape of an ultra-deep, Farben- or Burnski-like warped synth that is immediately pitched down around the three and a half-minute mark. If this synth would have been featured more prominently in the mix, I would have been more enthusiastic about it. Anyway, it’s a slick track and I’m quite sure that this is the one that will turn up in many a DJ set, so it serves a large audience that will probably embrace this track very strongly, while at the same time it will cause bewilderment by Cosmic Metal Mother’s fanbase.


I’m glad there are still (or yet again?) people at record labels who not only manage to simply sign Ambient artists and release the respective tunes, but who also make sure that the perfect surroundings are accurately in place. In terms of Ambient music, this means making a virtue out of necessity, allowing the artists to realize their tracks, as long as the runtime of a track might be – only the vinyl is the limiting border. This is exactly the case with Commodity Place and their track Soils. The duo is given the time they need to build a sophisticated, long-lasting track full of Ambience and organic qualities on side A. The remaining tracks cater to the club-oriented crowd, with passEnger’s Is It For Real? serving an important intermediary role as a nexus that connects elements of both Commodity Place’s and Cosmic Metal Mother’s tracks: the ambience from the first one, the beat-driven structure from the latter. I am especially fond of the – admittedly esoteric – overarching structure the first EP of Records presents and which is going to be a unique selling point of forthcoming installments in the series. This is no soulless compilation of tracks, but a mashup blend of two distinct fields of knowledge and art: Charles Darwin’s biology-related thoughts and three tracks which themselves do not reference Darwin’s thesis about the brain in plant roots directly, but are nonetheless tied to an organic sound; this can be even applied to Cosmic Metal Mother’s noise stormer and its short Detroit synth. The most successful implementation, taking the inclination of yours truly into account, is delivered by Commodity Place’s Soils. It will be interesting to see which other motifs prospective EP’s will inherit. As long as there’s an Ambient track or a synth-laden Deep House or Detroit offering on them, count me in!



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Ambient Review 058: VA – The Power Of Movement In Plants EP (2012). Originally published on Apr. 11, 2012 at