Review: Pjusk/Sleep Orchestra – Drowning In The Sky

After meeting at the Storung Festival in Barcelona, the members of Norway’s Pjusk and England’s Sleep Orchestra decided they needed to collaborate on a set of ambient works “that move you slowly and steadily through an ever changing landscape”. Before you think that sounds worryingly like a relaxation tape, rest assured this is a deeper experience.

Pjusk/Sleep Orchestra Album Cover

For the opener ‘Donitsk’, smooth walls of synths wash over a constant throbbing drone, perfectly encapsulating the project’s ambition to capture the experience of flying majestically over the clouds. ‘Daithn’ is another immersive pleasure, bringing in distorted bell chimes, with the sounds of running water echoing around the room. The standout moment ‘Skdiv’ consists of distant trumpets converging with static and icy blasts of machine noise. It could be defined as chill wave in its most literal sense but those dissonant layers create an ethereal, stark and lonely picture.

After this impressive beginning, the music seems content to be bathed in cavernous, glacial atmospheres but struggles to match the involving nature or variety from the beginning of the record. ‘Vansunbarth’ for example, seems to be building up into a dramatic finale but is content to simmer when it could have been boiling. To interrupt this relative slumber, Pleq’s remix of ‘Ronzemef’ injects the original with a welcome rumbling rhythm and new layers of frostiness but after an hour, one feels the effects are wearing off.

‘Drowning In The Sky’ would probably make more sense listening to on the headphones whilst trekking through the snow or on a long haul flight, since that’s the kind of environment that’s being conjured here. Yet although it’s atmospheric quality cannot be doubted, treated as a standalone record, the music is a little too cold and slow to be consistently compelling.

Web Sites:
Bandcamp Stream for Pjusk/Sleep Orchestra – Drowning In The Sky
Dronarivm Label Site

Further Listening:
Vladislav Delay, Anzio Green, Recue


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