A Novel Sense Of Calm






An Ambient Ofrenda

A Novel Sense Of Calm was inspired by the passing of my younger brother. In my culture, death is embraced and celebrated as an important phase of life. It’s customary to give ofrendas or offerings to the dead in the form of food, drink or other tokens to refresh the spirits and ease the burden of their journey,” Massergy states in the explanatory notes of his latest album, released in September 2015 on the Relaxed Machinery label created by John Koch-Northrup and co-run by Geoff Small & Steve Brand. The ten-track album is available to purchase and stream directly from the artist’s Bandcam page, and as luck has it for the listener, it is actually a life-affirming, eminently comfortable and only sequentially mysterious work with a magnificent flow… and thermal grace. This is all the more valuable in view to the crestfallen reason of its existence. The concoction of an airy/aqueous duology is the aesthetic result of Massergy’s productive vision during this work phase, but the technical achievement is guided by restrictions that would normally prevent such an ethereal result. For one, the album is created in a nature preserve in Austin, Texas, in lieu of one’s snugly home or well-equipped studio. In addition, the nocturnal work phase is only realized with a headlamp. In a third step, no sequencing, zero software, zilch post-effects are applied. And lastly, its is only the volume levels that were altered back in the studio, providing the closure of the circle. How, then, can such a premise lead to a thriving synth-oid vestibule of the mind? I’m trying to approach a few thoughts below.


The Aquatic Syncytium

Considering the tendency of the front artwork to embrace monochrome realms, the opener Mile Marker 4 is a particularly important ecomorph in order to outline – and make possible – the upcoming journey that is awash with salubrious light. The fadein phase is surprisingly short, with the soothingly flickering retinue of nebula-like synth aortas already firmly in place. Fluvial guitar coils float in the limelight like mucous helictites, and an equally lacustrine droning bass mellowly enforces the augmentation of this pectiniform biocentrism. Loneliness and remoteness are hinted at, but the various washes of legato constituents suggest a welcome time for contemplation. And this is the premise throughout the album, wherever you look and in whatever way the runlets guide you through: A Novel Sense Of Calm flows and swirls, whether the cautious cathexis of four-to-the-floor Psy Trance ameliorations sans the recondite abstractions are encountered in the glistening bubble drome Phenakistoscope, or the evening haçienda of the mind is being evoked by M–119 via its willfully antediluvian and rural lute derivatives that feel like pebbles in a pyrethrin-coated shingle beach.


Translucent Titrations

The benthic state of A Novel Sense Of Calm aside, its compounds and intermixture – while nutritious and deep – are also capable of absorbing light in order to emit and radiate these rays, similar to the phytotelemata of a pitcher trap which enclose everything inside, but are still eager to show the ramified cell tissue when being illumined. Diaphanous dioramas are therefore an important marker as well, and yet again a frequent one at that. One prime example is the fourth track Dusk Affinity with its demotic organ centrioles which gracefully float and fly in an electropositive chamber. Ecclesiastic Ambient (that’s not a genre, just a description) tends to embrace echoes, reverb and hall effects of all kinds, but Massergy’s gregarious megafauna shies away from these diluting fibroblasts and is rather in favor of an immediate approach, with the listening subject in the epicenter and every element ostensibly tangible. Especially the track’s second part is serene, and with a careful entanglement of sound, sustain and silence, it is able to spawn a lilting light. Archaism is another splendid example of the various vitreous compounds and lactic telomeres that flicker within the intrinsic boundaries of the album; a helicoidal aorta of crystalline glints offers an angular momentum. The gravitational lensing of the synth choirs and retrosternal emeralds results in a profound micrometry where the shapes and cristae dovetail efficiently.


Cave Pearls Amid Centerpieces

Massergy injects four large compositions into the liquedous sphere, and it is here where the colloidal nature of the particles and adjuvants is cherished, cultivated and fostered. Guided By Sparrows kicks off the scattered quartet with a saprotroph of 12 minutes which showcases the diffeomorphism of caproic rivulets and earthbound lycopods best: the swirling glitters and twinkling aureoles are seemingly aeriform and ethereal, but it is the earthy lavabo guitar that serves as the center of gravity, protruding the galactosamines with its hatched colors… and ultimately patronizing nucleus. Reed Fields Eternal meanwhile sees the same emphasis unfold, with changed quantifiers; the guitar remains a device of epistemology no less, although it is now facing eminently amicable and sensorial macronutrients in the shapes of orographic water pianos, glockenspiel chimes, thermal immersion circulators and volatile yttrium crystals in a joyously upbeat locale. The eponymous A Novel Sense of Calm then returns to a pure-pristine Ambient antrum without beats. A droning affair from the outset, the baroclinic boundaries are provided with a gorgeously clandestine vibraphone ergosphere. Here, light and moisture are more tawny and mysterious, the metallicity revved up. Pulsatile but superionic, this cryovolcanic plateau is the gateway into the deep ether. And finally, The Venial Son is the shape-shifting epigenetic magnetotail of the quartet, enchanting with a mixture of grainy and damp guitar chords, afterglows of mystique and a laid-back, fluid-processed 4/4 rhythm in the last third which embraces the enigmatic vitalism of this periglacial planetesimal.


A Nomological Uncertainty Remains

Massergy’s A Novel Sense Of Calm has the novelistic detail engrained in its title already, and the focus on tranquility and placidity is equally open to scrutiny. But the actual work, meaning the ten soundscapes, resides in the tropopause, with all its glucans, vesicles and fermions equally touched by light and liquid. The former is not always transparent, the latter not necessarily prone to serve as an amniotic compound of enlightenment. In fact, A Novel Sense Of Calm is surprisingly keen on targeting obliquity more than anything else. It is a wonderful obliquity hued in chromogenic aurorae, centrifugal perianths and isothermal circumambulations, and if this very sentence makes you raise a brow, then you have approximated the endemic photometry of Massergy’s album. It sits between the poles. It embraces cenobitism only to then refer to its dissociation, venturing into areas and ancillary routes that are unexpectedly far away. It is the nutraceutical light that helps the listener and brings him or her back into the figurative spot. Despite the occasional shrewd mysticism, there is never an ignis fatuus or friar’s lantern to be encountered, the traveling subject isn’t trapped. It is just the chirality that makes one think so from time to time, that is the asymmetry between the original – artistic – thought of a piece and the mirrored synths and guitars which don’t always mytch, let alone superimpose. This only brings in a further addendum of excitement and profundity to the album. A Novel Sense Of Calm hence addresses the abiogenesis aliphatically: organic tropes arise from its non-living matter with each track. A feat of the artist, a feast for the listener.


Further listening and reading:




Ambient Review 452: Massergy – A Novel Sense Of Calm (2015). Originally published on Sep. 23, 2015 at