Gossamer is the follow-up to Sircle aka James Mills’ 2012 debut A Relevant Space and its more cryptic cousin at the same time. Digitally released in June 2015 on Frozen Forest and available to purchase and stream at the label’s Bandcamp page, its seven tracks – recorded in Los Angeles and London from 2014 to 2015 – rely on a different epistemology. A Relevant Space, to sum it up in one single sentence, is music specifically made for floatation tanks and similar devices. Gossamer, on the other hand, encompasses clandestine undercurrents, cloak-and-dagger segues and partially eerie rhythms and percussion sections. The second album by the London-based musician is still a dedicated Ambient work, probably even more so than A Relevant Space which ventures into Tech House cenobitism and Detroit-y lanes. The rhythms are only feigned and watered down, but even so, the dilution still inherits slight Lovecraftian rhizomes. But there’s no denial that Gossamer relies on an equimolar amount of mesmerizing synth flumes, crystalline coils and vitreous verglas veils. There’s even two vocal tracks on board, adding the most human element possible… to a diorama of diffeomorphism no less. Here, then, is a closer inspection of all seven tracks.


It is as if the years between A Relevant Space and Gossamer have never existed. In the most positive way, the exogenous interstices between the albums are caulked, the lap joints stitched together once the opener Mahogany Chest is running. Shuttling between cloudy synth washes and granular gauzes in a dreamy fashion, it is the arpeggiated punctilio of the jittering fibroblasts that add a rhythmical element to the circumambience, although even this constituent eventually becomes viscid and a complete rivulet as the song progresses, leading to a holarctic zoetrope hued in digital tape hiss and pink noise. Next to this heirloom is An Empty Field In Hamburg with its droning rubicund ethereality. Whether it is the amniotic lariats amidst the flow or the fragile metalization of rhenium-alloyed lozenges and coruscating centrioles, there is a certain technocratic granuloma with this hypanthium.


What a difference Fox Red makes when it is correlated to the previous two arrangements! Not only features it the hieratic vocals of Catiana Bellaire, her voice is also mercilessly looped, turning into a polyphonous phragmoplast at certain times, making her presence akin to a phoresy, traveling the guitar-accentuated megafauna of lanthanum kinetics and biomorphic glades by means of pentatonic tribalism. The adjacent title track Gossamer meanwhile is a subzero affair due to its crackling electropositive syncytium, the recondite-ogival rhythm in 4/4 time and the molybdenized inhalation. There is a cautious magnanimity injected into the adaxial aureoles, the composition lightens up ever-carefully, but it remains a Gothic ribcage of nullspaces, mephitic magnetotails and tawny yet high-plasticity afterglows and benthic 16-bit bubbles. It is the only track that approximates a simulated movement.


With Houndsditch, James Mills returns to the cherubic hapticity he is known for. A crystalline antrum with cerulean fractals, drenched pericarps and elysian ecomorphs, London’s eponymous one-way street is transfigured, mercilessly awash with light, harboring a micrometry that is basking in sensorial apprehension and slapped yttrium strings. Within its baroclinic boundaries: the salubrious light of the sun. The laychrymose Rosewood, however, features a different angular momentum altogether. Featuring the yearning vocals of Hannah Alley, this crestfallen evening serenade sees its panchromatic gamut willfully decreased in favor of a hatched microlensing, adiabatic mirages and a crimson-red string-resembling synth superresonance. As is the case with Catiana Bellaire’s vocals on Fox Red, Hannah Alley receives the same treatment by Sircle, having her vocals diffuse and rove into subcellular polymers. An almost petrifying, post-apocalyptic planetesimal. Northern Shipping Route absorbs the darker timbre, but since it is the apotheosis, there are orthorhombic polar lights and proselytizing pseudotensors engrained, making the phototropism ultimately soothing. The titration between gelid haze, ultramafic swirls and toned-down ship signal basslines leads to the isothermal endpoint where the endemic marks are connected.


There’s no denial: the tropopause of Gossamer has become darker and a tad more inimical, with the darkness translating into efflorescence more often than not. This mortal subtheme never annihilates the more life-affirming, glistening perianths though. In fact, it is this grave obliquity that actually allows the abiogenesis on a per-song basis, even in those instances that seem to be awash with light and entirely blissful. Whereas A Relevant Space is primarily concerned with the well-being of floatation tank users who want to reach relaxation and stasis whenever possible, Gossamer doesn’t have an immediate, let alone self-explanatory appliance factor which allows James Mills to fathom both the perihelic incandescence and aliphatic undergrowth, the latter of which is mechanistic and remote most of the time, only to then become superimposed. This leads to a chirality more often than not: the visual acuity is guided, erected and harmed by the sound-based textures and surfaces which deny the album a completely nomological barycenter. While this kind of steelification is split in the second track An Empty Field In Hamburg which slowly morphs from a picturesque setting into a counter helix of harbor-based spiral binder tapes, the seventh track Rosewood doesn’t even see the light of day to begin with. The fluvio-lacustrine flow is what ultimately unites both of Sircle’s albums, with A Relevant Space residing in safe surroundings, and Gossamer encountering strychnine surfactants and Tartarean themes.


Further listening and reading: 


Ambient Review 441: Sircle – Gossamer (2015). Originally published on Jul. 8, 2015 at