Best Albums of 2020: Best of Silent Records

Earthset (Silent Records)
Eye of Silence (Silent Records)

Four years on from its 2016 reboot, Kim Cascone’s ambient label Silent Records finds itself with a recent catalogue almost as diverse as the one it built in the 80’s and heady 90’s, though with a much less hectic annual release schedule. Take your pick from its menu of electronic ambient – from the lushest drones and ambient dance strains through to the darkest atonal and experimental noise. My own tastes tend towards the former, reflected in these two fine releases.

Californian Adam Douglas aka Deeper Than Space is one of the original Silent artists and his Earthset shows a love for vintage analog synth sounds, especially 80’s electronic soundtracks and 90’s acid trance. Featuring three tracks of warm, soaring, pulsing bleepiness buffeted by two long and dark drone pieces, it’s a shining piece of retro electronica with a subtle 21st century sheen. Or in Kim Cascone’s words: “Think the musical output from a hashish-fueled studio session with John Carpenter and Cluster.”

Meanwhile, Dutch musician Albert Borkent aka Lingua Lustra continues his impressive tenure on Silent with four pieces of deep and lush psychedelic drone music on the magnificent Eye Of Silence. If drone is too often like a flat, featureless landscape, this one is populated by apparitions and colours, breathing harmonies and subtle multiple melody lines. It plays in shadow but is never engulfed by darkness. Eye of Silence has a rare transcendent power that’s hard to describe; think David Parsons classics like Himalaya (1989) or the most tonal examples of Robert Rich’s beatless psyscapes.

Best Albums of 2020 Reviews Index

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