[reviewed by/ autorka recenzji: VITRIOL || ENG]
Rapoon is the ethnic/ ambient project of British musician, composer and visual artist Robin Storey, also known from the pioneering industrial project Zoviet France, of which he was a founding member from 1979 to 1992. After he left Zoviet France Storey has presented an impressive amount of releases with Rapoon – in fact I believe the number exceeds 45-50 records – as well as pursued his studies and activities in visual arts and composition, and released some solo albums under his own name. He has gained a wide international acclaim with both his music and artistic endeavours, and continues to create in many different mediums, including soundtrack and theater composition. Rapoon however remains his main outlet, constantly producing high-quality releases.
“Seeds In The Tide” is the project’s fourth release with the Polish label Zoharum, known for its experimental/ avant-garde profile and its support of the inter-connectedness between different means of artistic expression. The first part is a collection of very rare compilation tracks and a few 7”, mostly dating back to the 90s, that I’m sure are impossible to find at this point. The second part is a re-issue of a limited 1997 CDr release by the legendary Austrian label Syntactic Records, “Messianic Ghosts”. The label owner went on to found Klanggalerie, and Syntactic releases have now become cult among noise and ambient enthusiasts. Generally speaking it’s safe to say that this album is the only way to get your hands on these tracks at the present time.
Rapoon’s music may be loosely described as “ethnic ambient” but due to its industrial, electronic, avant-garde and soundtrack influences it negates the point of categorization. The world element is certainly the most prominent, but Rapoon is not your typical new-age mélange of meditative flutes and prompting for spiritual enlightenment. An air of boundless freedom and the evident joy of experimentation prevail over a versatile mixture of sounds and concepts, and perhaps due to the artist’s closeness to other forms of art, his music is distinctly visual, almost cinematic, but in a more genre-inclusive way. The aptly titled “Seeds In The Tide”, although it only covers Rapoon’s early period from 1993 to 1999, portrays this flexibility with regard to the handling of different influences, and the musical diversity in Robin Storey’s work. The tracks move from voice samples and field recordings to sound manipulations, drones, ethnic percussions, traditional instruments, meditative ambient and a few industrial passages here and there.
Personally I find the purely ethnic tracks most exciting, due to their dynamic rhythmic sequences and their ritual overtone, that invites the listeners to create an exotic setting in their minds. But that is ultimately a matter of taste. “Fallen Gods”, in my opinion one of the best tracks in the album, has a backbone of a strong, quick percussive rhythm that supports the sounds of traditional instruments – most likely some sort of horns – that seem to be announcing an important tribal ceremony, perhaps a wedding or a festival. “Shakaah” seduces with its slow, hypnotic flutes and tribal drums, while “Recant” with its environment sound samples and eerie middle section filled with drones and background noises and melodies, gives the impression of a cold mist rising over a Tibetan mountain range, its final section melting into a release of electronic percussion and melodic synths. The perfect soundtrack to a Tibetan religious dance.
“Birethen” is also a very interesting track, with ethereal female vocals covering a fast-paced electronic sequence of percussions and various voice samples, escalating until the final seconds of the track, where everything stops abruptly. “Trial Of Lies” is perhaps the most industrial track in the album, containing some heavy noise rhythms, looping sections of Arabic-sounding horns in various different tones, drones and static – a desert storm sweeping over the landscape, while everyone runs to hide, the blurred silhouettes of caravans disappearing in the horizon, the voice of the muezzin faintly audible in the general din.
The second disc, “Messianic Ghosts” moves on a different platform, that of atmospheric ambient/ drone. Comprising of two long tracks, nearly a half an hour each, “Messianic Ghosts” and “Babel Tongues” and two shorter ones, “Eye Of Cloud” and “Horned Moon”, it is best perceived as a whole than as individual tracks. Its cold, minimalistic ambience provokes a soothing feeling, making it suitable not only for a relaxing listen but also for meditation if so inclined. The music here is of a more abstract nature and not as suggestive as the first part of the release. “Horned Moon” contains a percussion sequence very similar to that of “Fallen Gods”, thus closing the recording in the same way that it began.
“Seeds Of The Tide” is a great opportunity to acquaint or re-acquaint yourselves with Rapoon’s work, and to have some extremely rare tracks in your collection. Even though as mentioned above, it covers the project’s early period, it is representative of the creative inspiration behind it, as well as its diverse musical influences. In addition, it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen that you are sure to revisit often if you like ambient music not necessarily tinged with a dark ‘taint’.