Jack Hertz
Green Mist






First things first: Jack Hertz is a producer of multilayered Ambient music from beautiful Pacifica, California who in 2012 alone has released three albums (or ultralong tracks that could count as whole albums). Luckily, one of these, Green Mist, is available for free on Earth Mantra, in both MP3 and FLAC formats and released under the Creative Commons license. Spanning three tracks, Mr. Hertz has once again been inspired by his home town which looks utterly gorgeous when a foggy mist lies like a veil over the Pacifica coast – just search for the various photos on the net, this natural phenomenon, while perfectly commonplace, is a feast for the eyes. Combining material that is dedicated to StillStream’s Time Drone Radio Show with a live performance that was streamed during Autumnal Equinox 2011, Green Mist is a drone album that oscillates between dark heaviness (not heavy darkness) and glistening haze, making it perfect for background listening sessions as well as for an active absorption of the meandering sound waves. Due to its title and similar approach, Jack Hertz implicitly competes with another mist-related classic, Thom Brennan’s Mist of 2000. Let me tell you in advance that Hertz’s offering is much more varied but also deliberately reduced in its use of swirling effects in order to not break the intimate secludedness.


As it is common for Ambient albums, the 23-minute long opener Lichen fades in slowly with quavering synth strings, duskily illuminated crystalline drone structures in the background and additional glacial streams which are complemented by whisper quiet flurries and occasional buzzes of static noise. Any touch of monotony is prevented due to slowly morphing tone sequences which makes this a sophisticated drone track whose mode of action relies less on streamlined, whitewashed strings rather than organic pulses, short bursts and a floating unison of all ingredients. Lichen is unsuspectedly majestic and warm and only slightly melancholic. Its plasticity is breath-taking; around the eight-minute mark, for example, a quiescent flute melody reminiscent of clichéd thought bubbles about Native American tribes can be heard. Of course it’s a twisted wind synth, but this is a good criterion in terms of the little curlicues that take place in the background. Around the twelve-minute mark, the glacial melody becomes more effervescent by swirling around and being accompanied by electronic bird cries. The track is now breathing and living and gets rid of any gloominess that may have been absorbed by the listener in the first minutes. I would even go so far as to allocate a certain exuberance and confidence to the track. Only when it fades out slowly does a certain coldness find its way to the ears of the listener.


Algae is next and the second track specifically written for the Time Drone Radio Show. As its title already suggests, the warmth of Lichen is combined with 21 minutes of reverberated bubble drones and their abyssal sonar brethren. The mood is much heavier and more enigmatic here, with polyphonous synth pads whose incisive spectral-like grace drifts through the deep whirring and swooshing of the aquatic microcosm that is aurally painted. The backing synths are ethereal and played in higher regions, while the purposefully vestigial bleeps of 80’s synth pads form a fragile counterpart to the rapturous intermixture of heavier strings. At times, though, Algae seems to be surprisingly lightweight and aerial, but these sections are short and far-flung. The omnipresence of the deep drones remind me of other subaqua albums, Thom Brennan’s Vibrant Water or Jonson’s Mindlook, for instance. The incessant oscillation between deep calmness and brightly-lit angelic sonorities makes this a colder, more exciting foil to the warm Lichen. The final piece is Moss and enhances the endemic formula of Green Mist with strongly pulsating scintillae whose reverb indicates a certain wideness and deepness of the created space. Swirling synth pads stroll along while small frizzles and coruscating droplets are club-oriented remnants of an acid hymn that never existed. Due to the swirling nature of the synths, Moss is particularly galactic and slightly eerie, and while the aforementioned pulses are ubiquitously heard and could hence be described as the track’s base frame, the warmth of Lichen is further afar than expected if you take the lush verdure of sylvan moss into account. Korg fans might be happy with the result as the synth pads inherit the typical analog nostalgia.


Green Mist is a very good drone album, though it doesn’t perfectly adapt the nature of drone layers, and that’s a good thing! There is always something swirling or spluttering around, be it pulses, static noise fragments or spellbinding washes of bliss. The feeling of being alone – or likewise the microscopic glimpse into a soporific world of deepness – is skillfully captured by Hertz. With the exception of the siren-esque bird cries in Lichen, my favorite track off the album, all sound elements build a harmonious alloy of elaborate synth structures. The link to Brennan’s Mist is not too far-fetched, as both artists try to encapsulate the listener with the help of oscillating drones and a certain deepness, but Hertz adds varying motifs and intersections to his tracks, whereas Brennan delivers the pitch-perfect example of a meandering Ambient album that doesn’t change over its long course but harks back to the same ingredients time and again, which itself is a perfectly valid take on Ambient music. Due to the organic structure, I prefer Green Mist myself. From the mellifluous warmth over the cavernous moisture to the piercing synthscape which is coupled with reverberated pulses, all three tracks are judiciously balanced and cohesive while they’re branching off into quirky territories due to the various embedded signals, noises and tidbits that distract seldom from the drone layers. The sophisticated Green Mist is so spellbinding that this won’t be the last review of Jack Hertz’s compositions you have read on AmbientExotica.




Ambient Review 071: Jack Hertz – Green Mist (2012). Originally published on May 16, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.