At the risk of judging a book by its cover, British duo Pausal’s latest disc comes very nicely wrapped. It features an opulent, abstract piece that sets high expectations for the music inside. You won’t be disappointed.
Alex Smalley and Simon Bainton describe Pausal as an “audio and visual art project.” There’s no pretense here. This new work – their fourth full album – is magnificent.
The disc opens with a three-part piece under the name “Murmuration.” Full of scratchy pops and clicks, it has an intensely organic feel despite having been performed on synthesizers, looped turntable and voice microphones. “Murmuration I” is the most impressive. It builds over 11-plus minutes, demanding more and more concentration as the piece progresses. It gains power with each additional layer, not unlike Samuel Barber’s masterpiece Adagio For Strings.
Pausal’s back catalogue offers a mix of pure ambient and more challenging electronic works. There’s a bit of both on Avifaunal.
“Spiral” and “Scatter” are more straightforward electronic compositions. Both have an edginess to them that adds welcome texture to the album. (You might even call it grit.)
“Scatter” is another of the album’s highlights. Again, it’s a synth-based work. But there are moments here that are reminiscent of 1980s-era Jon Hassell.
The album closes with “Soar,” a substantive ambient piece that marries high-pitch drones with a thin layer of noise just beneath the surface.
Avifaunal is a great success. You can find it on the Moscow-based label DRONARIVM.