Simon Scott - Navigare [Miasmah - 2009]Simon Scott’s debut full-length Navigare comes to us courtesy of the fittingly-named Miasmah label, since “miasma” is an appropriate description for this record. Imagine the sonic version of greasy smoke rolling through the room you’re sitting in—but smoke with a whole congeries of subtle scents and maybe even flavours mixed in with it. It’s an atmosphere that suffocates and blinds as much as it soothes and uplifts. But if you assume this stuff always has to be uplifting and soothing, then you’re probably reading the wrong reviews.
Part of the fun of listening to any record of this ilk is guessing how it was put together. My bet is on a minimum of synths and a maximum of heavily processed guitar textures, channelled through so many reverbs and pedals that you can’t even tell where the attack for each note begins (let alone tell what the notes are). But under and inside all of that, there’s composition—and even rhythm as well, what sounds like a conventional drum kit, albeit buried in the mix in such a way that you only notice it’s there after a couple of listening.
The track titles tip the whole thing that much more towards a project borne out of someone’s life and experiences, instead of the usual extremer-than-extreme or more-melancholy-than-thou posturing: “The Old Jug and Drum”, “Spring Stars”, “The Night And The Artificial Light”. The cryptically-titled “The ACC” veers the closest towards conventional song territory; it wouldn’t sound wholly out of place as a B-side from a more conventional shoe gazer outfit. This record’s not for staring at the floor, though; it’s for peering up into a night sky spattered with northern lights, with the occasional star going nova.Serdar Yegulalp