In the notes to 52-minute “Gutta-Percha”, composer Ben Powell (aka Mank) states the majority of the ambient music was written on a Canadian icebreaker on the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska, where he performs oceanographic measurements as a day job.
With his trance-inducing, rhythmic-driven and mellow music, Powell attempts to reflect the beauty and awe of the harsh, cold locations where he travels through, incorporating a good dose of environmental recordings, samples, beats and sub-bass pads along the way. The journey into the outdoors starts out rather rhythmic but not too prominent, aptly grasping the first atmospheric vibes on “Cyanosis” and “Precession”.
I for one though think the hypnotizing music is at its best when things stay quieter and submerge smoothly in a minimal shape, as on the soft mourning “Heliopolis”, “Rheya” or the melancholic dwellings of “Cwmorthin”. Next are the slightly trancy “Moloch” and the excellent “Proteus” coming up with lots of power (which actually reminds a lot of a non-melodic Schiller music).
“Systaltic”, made from a recording of salinity bottles rattling, combines field recording and dub-techno shadings intriguingly. The highly cinematic “Eglewyseg” is another ambient excursion ascending into the deep while fierce winds and stormy waves pass by before we end up in the quite hostile, alienating and psychedelic soundings of “Dysthymia”. On the immersive field recording “Erebus and Terror”, the final track of the release, we actually experience the haunting sound of the ship ice breaking as recorded from inside of the bow.
“Gutta-Percha” is no background music but nicely rendered, mixed and produced ambient music demanding focused listening (headphones recommended). As all Mank’s previous releases, this one is available as a free download in both Flac and Mp3 from the composer’s website.
You can see what reviews I have done of this artist on the Mank artist page