[Reviewed by: stark]
Gterma is not as active on the ambient field as it used to be only a few years ago. It’s a pity, because almost all of their releases were top notch of the genre. Several times when I thought that we have to say goodbye to the Swedish label, something was coming out and kept the gterma on the surface of the ocean covered with cracking ice. It seems to me that it’s due to the fact that today Johan isn’t just looking for new artists for his catalog, but he’s publishing friends and proven names, focusing on even higher quality at the expense of quantity.
And Oar, while the name may seem unknown, is in fact the work of an old pal, Odd Jensen, who previously released some absolutely perfect records as Havdis. If I had to choose one artist, whose work is a sonic synonym of a trip along the northern sea coast, via trails rarely attended by tourists, when I’m accompanied only by the sound of sea waves and birds circling over the water, it would probably be Havdis. It is a kind of music that relaxes, but at the same time gives the impression of being tiny, completely irrelevant, perhaps a redundant element of the landscape.
For a long time I was wondering why “Adrift” was released as Oar, because musically-wise it doesn’t differ much from Havdis’ works. That project has managed to develop its quite characteristic sound, which is not the easiest thing in the world, at least in the field of deep ambient. If I had listened to it blindfolded, I’d probably have guessed who the mysterious persona behind these sounds was, and would’ve been sorely surprised to find out it’s some “Oar” or something. But the musician decided to take this step and not the other, so let’s just respect it.
However, the release note itself provides a clue. Havdis’s music has always been treated as a rather literal concept referring to Northern nature, while this time the musician uses the theme of the sea as a trigger for an inner journey on a strange wave floating inside your mind. Maybe that’s it, maybe this coral sculpture is somewhere inside your memories, covered with mundane matters from today and yesterday, and to get to it in order to achieve inner peace, you need to get carried away by this invisible wave? I don’t know, that’s how I explain it to myself.
Musically, these are still deep but soothing drones intertwined with beautiful slow melodies (“Skarvsteinen”!), Which is nothing that Havdis would not have got used to before. What is actually different from Oar from Havdis is the use of field recordings. I mean it seems that on “Adrift” there are none or hardly any. This is purely synthesizer music, although the artist can create the impression of being somewhere in an open space. The music gently flows through the speakers, slows the heart rate down and reduces stress. These words may seem a bit like an ad for tranquilizers, but there is something to it. For city rats, this can really be a cleansing thing. And at the same time, it is excellently produced, just the essence of ambient. What else would you need?