Now Right Here
Minit is the Sydney-based duo of Jasmine Guffond and Torben Tilly and remains one of my favorite Drone duos. With only two albums in their discography, they were never able to fully impose the music press, but I am deeply affected by their music nonetheless. While their 1999 debut on Sigma Records called Music is a calamitous, machine-heavy and dusky Drone work with Dark Ambient traits, the follow-up on Staubgold Records is released five years later in 2004 and called Now Right Here. The duo remains in Drone territories, but delivers a totally different album which is tremendously bright, perfectly cozy and encompasses the electro-acoustic nature as well as the analogue warmth of the genre. Such being the case, there's a high chance that you don't like both of their albums equally, for they are so different from each other, but I somehow managed to adore them both, don't ask me how I accomplished this. With just four tracks – technically even three, as the final offerings make up one track – the variety is notably reduced, but what Now Right Here lacks in diversion, it delivers in carefully built-up tracks that are much more accessible than the majority of Music and way silkier. This is still neither Pop Ambient music, nor all too easily digestible, but it doesn't take a skilled listener of 80 years of age to wade through the coruscating core that is to be found in each of the arrangements. And this core, in the end, comprises of one particular thing: warmth.
Now Right Here is the title-lending opener of almost 20 minutes runtime. It's the centerpiece of the album even though it's placed right at its beginning, making my comparison a bit lackluster, I have to admit. But the scope and atmosphere of Minit's 1999 debut is thankfully rescued and perfectly placed here. However, this is not a grim and dark composition as expected, but a Drone hymn with an impressive euphony. But first the title opens with a slow fade-in of a piercing violin string and an electricity-evoking bass drone, providing the tense thrill of nocturnal darkness. Even before the second minute is over, it becomes clear that the piercing string that seems so threatening is of inferior importance, as a wonderful two-note synth motif becomes the actual golden thread, encapsulating both fragility and utter joy, altogether feelings that couldn't be linked to Minit heretofore. Static noise drones and filtered French horn fragments, played by Klara Logan, rev up the sound stream, but Now Right Here drones along in a quavering fashion, its characteristic trait changing from mystical to eerie at times, but the positive outlook remains and becomes stronger as the song progresses. The various Moog-like synth strings tremble and oscillate, bounce and shiver, but the resulting synthscape evokes happiness and majesty, increasing in their crescendo until after around nine and a half minutes, a stomach-massaging dubby bassline is introduced. Its three notes waft gently, adding depth to the choir of strings. After having reached its climax after the tenth minute, the almost parabolic structure of the composition becomes apparent, as the downfall sets in, with the bassline slowly declining, the buzzing synths becoming more streamlined and less shifty. It's as if a moiré filter is laid over the scene, and what was once crunchy and pulsating is now mellow and harmonic. A few pulsating effects are still interwoven, but they're fuzzy and their attack rate lowered. Now Right Here is the duo's most optimistic take to date, and while it starts in shady, Dark Ambient-like realms, it immediately morphs into brightest territories. Despite the track's length, Minit don't surprise the listener with the outburst of blithe and friendliness – it's there from the beginning and crystal clear before the start of the third minute. A wonderful Drone track full of hope; it starts rather harshly but ends all the silkier. Impressive!
The remaining three tracks are cryptically named, but no less cheerful. Yes it's true, the happiness continues with the resplendent lushness of CG. This one is for fans of early Oval tracks. In fact, CG could be easily placed in the surroundings of the trio's 1995 album 94 Diskont, as Minit unleash phantasmagorical streams of thermal heat, with gently pulsating particles, glinting synth washes and analogue organ scintillae. This is actually my favorite track of the album, as it is unbelievably cozy, good-natured and enthralling. It tucks the listener in, there's no bile or cheap shockers attached. Akin to Oval, the intensity naturally grows in the last third, with heavily spiraling pulses on louder volume levels, but this outburst isn't perceived as nerve-racking and calms down anyway after a minute or so. Thumbs up for this gem of a track that has been largely unnoticed by the whole world. IJ Variation and IJ Muiden is the final couple. The former track seems to come right out of Francisco López' mind, with an in medias res maelstrom of static noise, machine sounds, radio frequencies, sine waves and crackles. After a minute, a frosty but beautiful vibraphone-like synth melody is integrated all the while the static noise wall loses its aggression. The calm, almost Japanese sounding melody remains – now enhanced by a warm acoustic guitar – while only a few pink noise injections and quavering molecules swirl around them. The motif isn't even melancholic, although it's coming close. It's meandering gently, always keeping its solemnity and grace. The final IJ Muiden floats right into it, keeping the melody intact and the gelid noise theme upfront, but adding bit-crushed trombone-like sounds in lower regions to it. Only a few crackles and pops remind of the formerly stronger emphasis on the machine-like nature. But all in all, IJ Muiden allows a better glimpse at the gleaming melody, ending the album in tranquility and rapture.
Now Right Here is indeed a forgotten work, but that's an audacity that admittedly cannot be reversed by me, but to which I can put my finger on. While the band's debut Music was baneful, totally focused on monotony and only slight alterations in-between the fissures of the loops and layers, their second – and to this day last – album is inviting, friendly and bursts of hope. The various Glitch elements are reduced to a minimum, and even if they are there, they aren't extremely cold, but usually filtered in order to not disturb the moment of majesty with their potentially piercing attributes. Guffond and Tilly have created an extremely cozy album. Fans of Oval who are used to static noise and jitters in-between the analogue warmth will dig this album in no time, especially the second song CG, but everything else is also exceptionally well-produced. Since the final two tracks make up really one track, and the parabolic opener shakes off its gloom after less than three minutes, I can recommend this album to Ambient fans who are somewhat fond of Glitch particles, but who want them to whirr in the background in order to let the melodies shine all the more. Dark Ambient fans better get Minit's debut Music, which is harsher, more threatening and baleful, but succeeds with its proper Drone architecture. Whatever your choice will be, Minit are not to be forgotten and are among my secret favorite bands that hardly anyone knows. They're not so secret anymore due to my reviews, but this is totally embraced by me and not a problem at all.
Ambient Review 111: Minit – Now Right Here (2004). Originally published on Aug. 22, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.