Tim Bass
I Have Become Overcome
With Thoughts Of You 





Drone is a subgenre of Ambient, easy. But it gets even more fascinating when you can distill further categories off Drone. Reaching this very nucleus that is almost stripped off any curlicue and ornament is hard to achieve, and usually described under the term minimal, although this problematic description implies coldness or melody-free wastelands, and while such compositions exist and are even intriguing on their own, this is definitely not what Australian Tim Bass' second EP/album hybrid I Have Become Overcome With Thoughts Of You is about. Released on the Twice Removed label and available on the Bandcamp section dedicated to Tim Bass as well as on a strictly limited CD edition of 100 copies, the five gathered tracks are much reduced, true, but the mood is warm, comforting, only slightly melancholic and coherent. This is Ambient music that consists of anything but guitar layers, a synthesizer and a few knobs for oscillation, modulation and sparse filters. To me, the most important trigger is the term warmth. Even though the majority of the tracks is minimal and purposefully reduced in melodies, layers, thickness and fulminant hooks, all of them inject and maintain waves of thermal heat and coziness without falling prey to the bonfire ditty scheme which I so despise. Naturally, the deliberately minimal setting disqualifies certain things you might expect from Drone tracks, hence my advice of caution to those who admire Pop Ambient or even Dark Ambient more than anything else. You won't find these flavors on Bass' release, but if you're the slightest bit interested in the concept of coziness and contentment despite the reduced amount of layers, instruments and timbres, by all means, give the second release of this up-and-coming Drone expert a chance. Find out more about the five tracks and my thesis of the "ideal listener" and the "right circumstances" in regard to this release below.

Suspended Amongst Lakes opens the release in a strictly minimal fashion. The drones are deliberately thin and purifying and are best compared with the minimal majesty of Brian Eno's work of the late 70's. Ecclesial organ layers merge with electroacoustic bass drones. That's the characteristic trait of the track in a nutshell. But as usual, technical descriptions of Drone music don't describe their appeal or even magic. And indeed does the attraction of Tim Bass' opener derive from both the coalescence of the sources and the microscopic fissures between the layers. The bass plays in higher regions and tucks the listener in, while the higher pulse sweeps glisten solemnly. Even though the track is minimal, this is not a clinically sterile composition thanks to the analogue warmth of the meandering sound waves. Short vignettes of wind gusts enhance the liveliness, and the crystalline creek that flows along adds a tranquil fragility. It's a strongly mollifying and soporific track that sounds full and vibrant thanks to the deep drones, even though the remaining ingredients are thin and two-dimensional. Fans of Brian Eno and warm but reduced arrangements will love this piece. If this one is too minimal for you, don't worry, as the following almost ten minutes long centerpiece The Division Of Two is densely layered. Right from the start does Tim Bass present a cozy concoction of filtered guitar drones and slowly growing multitextured synth washes that rise and fall organically and encapsulate both an arcane mystique and a celestial rapture. The sustain of these streams is allowed to merge with each of the following swells and hence creates an balmy aura of encapsulation and shelter. Since these waves oscillate gently, you can spot glowing sub-textures at times that rev up the luminescence of the misty landscape. Two additional layers are worth mentioning as well. There's the same prolonged gelid sparkles that were found in the opener, but here they are juxtaposed to darkly bouncing galactic pads for a short moment. The farther the track progresses, the brighter and more festive it gets, allowing the listener a glimpse at the golden-shimmering strings of light and comfort which outshine all the remaining elements. The mellowness increases, and even though The Division Of Two isn't melodious in the Pop-related sense, it evokes a feeling of happiness and joy at the end. Drone afficionados who insist on a pinch of Pop Ambient and thicker layers will be intrigued. Tim Bass mediates between minimalism and density, and as I perceive it, the latter side of the spectrum wins this time.

Entirety Of A Pause is a pulse-oriented composition with a distinctive melody on a heavily echoey piano whose reverb fades out in the distance. Gentle twangs of a pulsating bass guitar accompany the rudimentary piano melody, but leave enough room for empty moulds in which nothing happens. Sound, sustain and space intertwine and depart throughout the running time, and due to the manifold alcoves between the sounds, the minimalistic theme of this mini album is realized in the most glaring way on this vignette. Once again does Bass oscillate between melancholia, nostalgia and solemnity. Hung From The Fragile Moon, on the other hand, is an unexpectedly warm offering due to a decrease of the melancholia threshold. Warm bass riffs and magnificently gleaming synth sweeps create an auroral diorama of utter peace. These sweeps aren't even thick or dense, but their positive nature is absolutely awe-inspiring. They seem to drone along monotonously, but the tiniest instances of additional layers and twinkling pulses establish and maintain sparkles of variety and change. It's yet again hard to pinpoint the mood. To my mind, it's an incredibly bright and mellow track if you consider the endemic aura of this release. It's my favorite composition and mostly free of crestfallen particles and doleful feelings. The final track is called A Passage Through and is distantly similar to The Division Of Two, but with less layers. And yet it manages to inject thermal heat due to the gently traversing guitar strings. The layers drone louder at times, depending on the modulation. The calmness, however, is always apparent. Even though I'm no synesthet, I link yellow-orange beams of light to the respective drones. After the humble majesty of all the previous tracks, this outro is as expected as it is appropriate.

The big selling point and appeal of Tim Bass' second release derives from the minimal approach that allows time for reflection and tranquility. It's the perfect background music for work-related tasks and writing sessions on your desk. The drones work best when the windows are closed and not too much noise is entering your room, which is admittedly hard during summertime (although it's Winter in Australia at time of writing), but all the more pleasing and intensive when this is managed by the listener. It's a terrific offering for active listening sessions as well, but more than many densely layered Ambient releases does
this kind of Drone music rely on the right circumstances. If you're an experienced Ambient listener and Drone gourmet and Tim Bass' arrangements don't immediately click with you, this is no bad omen or anyone's fault. I've listened to it over several days, at different times and even islands. The most surprising revelation to me has been the centerpiece The Division Of Two: while it's not my favorite piece of this EP/album hybrid, it enhanced my consciousness and perception on a rainy day in Frankfurt, but became something entirely different during a distant sunset-gaze session on a hotel balcony in Playa del Inglés, whereas my perception about the remaining four tracks didn't change. If you're fond of artists like Brian Eno, Tetsu Inoue or the calming kind of Drone in general, I Have Become Overcome With Thoughts Of You is a terrifically coherent release. Only rarely does Bass allow himself a treat and revs up the molecules of a drone. In all other instances, the occasional thickness of a song derives from the short entanglement of the different layers that depart soon thereafter only to merge again. This wave-like, organic nature is superb! Without the intention of insulting anyone, I strongly recommend Bass' music to the more skilled listeners, however you might define this term. It's not made for quick consumption, nor does it rely on syrupy settings and catchy riffs as they can be found in Drone music as well. No, this offering is all about peace and reflection, with subtle nuances, microscopic particles and the clever entanglement of sound and space. Don't mind the slight melancholia, for this release is brighter than you'd think at first!




Ambient Review 102: Tim Bass – I Have Become Overcome With Thoughts Of You (2012). Originally published on Aug. 1, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.