The Destination Is You: A Travelog

Disgraceful is the latest Ambient album by Bradford, UK’s Shima33 who has recently inseminated and mediated between the aesthetic peculiarities of Vaporwave and the mature superconductivity of Ambient on his white tape Museum, released on Dream Catalogue in the summer of 2015. Now Tokyo Exchange picks up the follow-up of eight tracks and 37+ minutes which is released in November 2015. Considering the circumstances, Disgraceful is a largely astonishing and unexpected gem of an Ambient album, although traits, straits and traces of its ethereal code could are plentifully scattered and dissipated in the predecessor Museum. But now, all the healthy powers and docile oxidants are pooled in a concentrated, intent manner. Depicting the journey through a string of seemingly British locales, all eight tracks are tied together by the well-known announcer of next stops, Trans Pennine and Arriva passengers know what to expect. The album’s big boon and artistic signature move in light of these sample-based opportunities, however, is the utter screening and blinding of all extrinsic sources: you will hear the announcer, but nothing else. No other customers, hall effects, foot steps, rail brakes and whatnot. These living and manmade constituents were all prominent parts in Museum. Here, on Disgraceful, they are farther away than ever, making room for synth washes, rain pads, suntraps and baroclinic boundaries. I have picked three tracks for further analysis, as they either constitute the overarching charm of the album… or mob it up for a moment or two by offering an extraordinarily epigenetic embedded addendum.


Of Crystals And Humanity: Static Railway 

Right from the get-go on the opener Static Railway, Shima33’s arrangements iridesce between a wondrously tasteful retrogressive New Age hue and a crystalline aurora that caulks the look back by altering the angular viewpoint into an immersive focalizing combustion hub. From the ethereally elasticized rhenium streamiets over the electric guitar helictites deeply encapsulated within this cathexis to the earthbound element of the ”next stop” announcements in our train, Static Railway isn’t nearly as static or plateaued as the title suggests, thereby offering a vincristine voyage and soul-cleansing trip through electropositive realms. There is no immediacy, no pressure whatsoever, and even if the synths are on the rise and their retinue grows, the coruscating circulator maintains its adaxial peacefulness. As the ever-important opener, it serves as the entry node or gateway to the overarching stylistic mélange, and whatever differences or diversities are to be encountered, rest assured that the announcer is nearby, guiding and guarding the passenger, showing them the things to see and experience throughout the train ride.


Aureate Aureoles: Faceless People, Nameless Land

It’s not just the front artwork, let alone the title of this album, but Disgraceful feels silvery and tawny most of the time, soothingly metallic, mercurially molybdenized, with its lanthanum carapace encapsulating the train throughout the journey. Amoxophobia reigns in the third track as well, called Faceless People, Nameless Land, but the utter tranquility and anti-vicissitude stasis of this track make it the golden proscenium of Shima33’s railway show. The ebb and flow of the synths is eminently benignant, the timbre and prolonged tone sequences are less otherworldly and more withdrawn into themselves. This artificial biocentrism resembles golden beams of light, thermal heat exudes, nomological amicability is enshrined. The synths are a tad more granular and reside in the lower mid-frequency range, thus offering the delightfully ambivalent timeframe between a nutritious afternoon fanfare and a sunset-colored wealth of milquetoast evening strings. You cannot help but to feel loved in this interim interstice.


Rhizomatic Protrusions: God, Do You Hear My Voice

It might only clock a few seconds shy of the three minute mark, but God, Do You Hear My Voice sees Shima33’s train running and floating on all cylinders, and these devices aren’t mechanical. In lieu of industrial design, high-octane fuel and architectural craftsmanship, this here track bundles up rays of technicolor and cannelures of panchromatic concestors in order to create a diaphanous diorama, a magnanimous multiplex of protrusive eruptions. These are eruptions of joy, however, resemblant of the Berlin School of Ambient music, with gregarious glissando gleams, colloidal slides and hyper-polished hooks that amplify their own spheres in order to erect an epistemological erethism, or knowledge against all odds if you allow me this cheeky comment. The time-related compression does work in manifold works on this track, for the majestic melodies, tidal flexing and demotic accretion never overstay their welcome; the song is over before the concurrent rise and adiabatic apprehension can even be perceived as elements of irony. In the state it is presented, however, God, Do You Hear My Voice remains the perpendicularly proselytizing preon of power.


It’s Got To Be You: Final Thoughts

I can’t help myself but to feel loved when I’m on board of Shima33’s train called Disgraceful, and why the eight-track album has received this title is for the artist to know and us listeners to not find out. At least I myself cannot think of a possible reason for this both potentially soul-crushing and anger-evoking title, but my inaptitude aside, the scintillating slow-motion arabesques of Disgraceful cannot be stopped and turn this trip into a journey through the innermost self. Granted, you have read sentences like that before, and true, if you are a follower of New Age music, relaxation anthems and nature-based interferometry, chances are that you are perfectly at home in this gravitational titration of telomere that’s bound to be loved. However, given Shima33’s aforementioned and -reviewed album Museum and his connections to the Vaporwave community, Disgraceful is all the more detached from the expectations, quirks and estimations of the genre. The album ends on a random note, neglects a sense of cinematic closure and rather favors an incidental endpoint. All the better and much more suited in the wake of the bound collection of tracks, I’m sure, as the deliciously comfortable, quiescent epitome is the aural antidote to any neon-fueled rampart of our time. That this album is created by one of its central proponents is even better. 


Further listening and reading: 


Ambient Review 461: Shima33 – Disgraceful (2015). Originally published on Nov. 25, 2015 at