Friday, 4 May 2018

Album Review | Icefields | 'Animal Kingdom' (2018)

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Harnessing the encompassing powers of atmospheric chillwave, artist Icefields brings forth a unique spin upon the slow, intrinsic instrumental details of the ambient genre. Natural soundscapes are often intertwined within the two genres, to create an air of complete calm and serenity.

Andrew (Icefields) specifically states that his music is centered upon natural themes, and he utilizes this completely. In his album Animal Kingdom, Andrew composes the fourteen-tracks by adapting the characteristics and behaviors of specific animals to fully envelop the listener – and himself – in the beautiful, natural world of a small section of the animal kingdom.

Opening with the title track ‘Animal Kingdom’, Andrew introduces the overarching theme and sound of the record with a calm yet enveloping aura produced by a variety of means; including an unexpected use of the flute. This then transcends into the depths of the natural world, where songs begin to subliminally sound like animals. Andrew weaves from Deer to Dolphin, Fire Ants to Jellyfish, Stingray to Wolverine with innate ease. The tempo increases and decreases, the volume rises and falls, yet it never takes you by surprise.

The flow between each track isn’t jarring in the slightest, which is definitely something that is needed with an ambient record like this. If there is one law to abide by in ambient and chillwave, it’s to create a continuous string of relaxation and serenity even through differing tempo speeds.

When it comes to the tracks relating to their animal counterparts, it surprisingly isn’t difficult to imagine what animal Andrew is basing each track around. Whether it’s the snake charm melodies of ‘King Cobra’, the chattering, subdued undertones of ‘Dolphin’ or the exotic, tropical beats of ‘Flamingo’; Andrew takes the obvious associations linked to the animal, burying the simplicities of the animal within each song as its foundation. It makes for easy-listening, which in turn allows an easy connection to the natural soundscape that he is striving to provide.

Creating an ambient album solely around the animal kingdom is a simple yet extraordinary tale, one that no one has dared to attempt it – until now. There is a definite opportunity here for Andrew to create further installments/albums surrounding other natural landscapes, such as seasons, fauna and places.

Animal Kingdom is available now via Nuit Blanche.

Soundcloud: @icefields

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