Jacob Newman & Devin Underwood - Sending the Past

Carpe Sonum
(SEIZEXIX: 708527005255)
Release date: 08/28/2015
Genre: Electronic



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1. Light Point, 2. Sequester, 3. Time Lapse, 4. Built from Amber, 5. In the Air, 6. Mist Field, 7. The Elusive, 8. Rotations, 9. Day Stretch

The first Carpe Sonum outing by Jacob Newman and Devin Underwood also has the distinction of being the first US-centric release on the label. Recorded in Colorado and Massachusetts and mastered in Colorado by Jason Corder (aka offthesky, himself a prolific experimental ambient artist), this new recording finds the pair on near equal footing with any number of their esteemed colleagues working a combined mojo of ambient drift and atmospheric toggle.

The comparisons that acutely come to mind when discussing a work such as Sending the Past might well be obvious; not only does Pete Namlook's 'new environmental music' explorations come to mind but also the taut-stretched horizons of Steve Roach, Eno's delicate pastoralisms, the ambience (though not the strict instrumentation) of Russell Mills and Harold Budd, even the sacred space musics of practitioners as disparate as Ariel Kalma and Laraaji. What unites this slew of aesthetes together, Newman and Underwood included, is their love of landscape, place, total recall, and mental moving pictures. Over the course of a mere four minutes, "The Elusive" distills such phenomena in lucid, specfic detail, as a series of deliciously coaxed sonic entrails spiral out like gossamer webs, unidentifiable noises phosphoresce, and alien raindrops speckle across far-flung tundra. It's a beguiling track that, like the finer moments on Eno's On Land or Roach's Structures from Silence, beckons you in to its womb-like formations and demands a suspension of time and space.

Newman and Underwood's modus operandi seems to mimic most other purveyors of contemporary ambient-space ritual, noting that like their brethren they "love to explore drones and tones, textures and spaces, as well as subtle melody." That such nuance pervades Sending the Past is no surprise; they feel that this new recording differentiates itself somewhat from their established 'template', "proceeding in new directions as we continue to explore musical ideas and processing techniques", but it's their preternatural gift for intriguing sound design that sets the duo apart from the pack. In their case, Past makes perfect.

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