Ambient Song Of The Month: December 2012





Chris Herbert






One of Birmingham-based Chris Herbert’s Drone tracks has recently been prominently featured on the highly praised Air Textures Volume II compilation curated by Rafael Anton Irisarri and Loscil. Called Naimina, its snugly mystique enchants the listener immediately, as the balance between saturated ethereality and granular reticence is carefully maintained. However, there is something much better than the six and a half minutes version of Naimina as presented on that compilation, and that is, you must have guessed it already, the humongous opus of 41 minutes called Naimina-Longueur, available to buy (name your price) and listen to in full on Chris Herbert’s Bandcamp site. Described in a humbly understated manner by Herbert as a "very long zone-out track, an experiment in almost total stasis" and "a place to hover for a while," Naimina-Longueur encompasses all of the characteristic traits of the shorter version, but in a stretched, prolongated and slightly altered setup, showcasing the granular warmth and enigma of Chris Herbert's debut Mezzotint of 2006. Released in April 2011, the long track not only provides a great backdrop for desktop-related tasks and short moments of creative contemplation, but conflates very efficiently with winterly surroundings. Making it the Ambient Song of the Month December is hence a good choice, methinks.



Launching in medias res without any fade-in phase, Naimina-Longueur consists of gorgeously frosty pink noise streams and static noise effects right from the get-go, but it is the camouflaged crystalline music box-resembling whirling breeze in the frizzling fundament that mostly catches the figurative eye. Gently caterwauling slivers shuttle between the solemn peacefulness; I could listen to this point of departure for a very long time, since the soundscape is so delicately frosty yet balmy and tranquilizing. After about two minutes, a mellow, only slightly oscillating drone is unchained, boosting the snugly warmth due to its iridescent tinge, strong lucency and powerfully bolstered accentuation. When the static haze wanes, this legato synth stream remains the only audible source for a short time. It is here, in front of a circumambient pitch-black nothingness, that the incandescent reciprocation of the elastically pulsating drone and the background becomes visible. Naimina-Longueur will never be this quiet and minimal again during its runtime. While the drone keeps on swirling, an infinitesimal dose of silkened hissing is admixed and successfully bridges the former blackness. This state is enshrined for several minutes, the "total stasis" Chris Herbert mentions in the description is undoubtedly realized to the point. And yet the composition progresses further. After about 16 minutes, the mellow drone is accompanied by a mesmeric second layer which meshes well. It has the same surface, but resides in higher spheres, elevating the drone into wraithlike climes while retaining the humbleness. It is hard to explain, but even though this drone is the nucleus of Naimina-Longueur, it does not completely wash over the listener in a melodramatic grandeur. It remains gentle, strangely erudite and auroral. After 23 minutes, the arrangements is ready for another shift when Herbert injects several infusions of differently filtered and cut static noise layers, all of them again very mild-mannered and soporific. The depth of field broadens thanks to the lower frequencies that are washed ashore with the new static noise layers. The last fourth of the track favors the impetus of whitewashed static mist. The main aorta is still running, but the iciness increases until all fizzling elements are gone for good, leaving only the main synth which glows until the very end, then fades out.



Naimina-Longueur is much more effective and way more enchanting than its shorter next of kin. It literally drones on forever, but the created dreamscape is carefully nurtured and kindled, the dichotomy of coldness and warmth perfectly carved out. Chris Herbert’s particular composition – and most of his other tracks – inherits the tendency of uniting a lofty thermal heat with a slightly colder, a bit more enigmatic synth layer. Naimina-Longueur does never lure the listener into open arms, as its graceful state does only change carefully over the course of 41 minutes; there is no particularly evocative or catchy hook that lets the listener jump up and down. The whole track provides the aforementioned total stasis, and it is the characteristic trait of such a stasis that sudden emotions or scintillations are softly interpolated… in this case over a very long time. While the term background music has that audacious aftertaste, I am nonetheless willed to place Chris Herbert’s opus in this category, as it is so spectacularly humble and cautiously morphing. This is also one of the tunes that does not necessarily beg for good headphones, as lots of good Ambient music does. Of course its effect is augmented in this case, but I also enjoy listening to this piece with a speaker setup in surround sound while being on my desk, watching the coldness and the dancing snowflakes outside. Don’t let the cover artwork of this digital-only release fool you, Naimina-Longueur is not about megacities and concrete jungles rather than an auspicious journey into acroamatic antrums and illuminated settings of rapture.






Further reading and listening:






Ambient Song Of The Month Review for December 2012: Chris Herbert – Naimina-Longueur (2011). Originally published on Dec. 2, 2012 at