Blanket-Swimming-ambient-electronic-music-review

The Turning Point

Blanket Swimming

EP
Ambient

Sam Barker

June 25, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Icy ambience washes through this release, a musical reminder of the Covid era

The idea of “Covid-music” was a concept that floated around during the early stages of the pandemic. Living through such a momentous event would surely spark poignant creativity in all of those house-bound artists and writers. In reality, the weight of the lockdowns, deaths and general toll on mental health meant that Covid produced no such declarative wave of artistic understanding. Leaving the stern instruction of politics and history to try and make sense where art seemed unable to.

It is perhaps appropriate then, that as the worst tides of the pandemic receded cautiously, Blanket Swimming released their Covid-tinged ambient monolith The Turning Point.

Recorded while the artist was suffering from the illness during Christmas 2021 The Turning Point is truly uncompromising. Consisting of three massive tracks, The Image (Main Theme) and At The Time of Solstice stretch out to over 10 minutes long, while its finale track reaches 20. The album paints the image of an artist making lurid sense of their illness. Sparse samples – the main building block of the album – loop and loop, overlayed with ominous rolls of synth and organ. Piano keys clunk through a gramophone in a dusty, ill haze. On the apex song, I’ll Open My Eyes, dim operatic melodies can be heard perhaps 50 miles in the distance covered under soot.

Blanket Swimming tells of the project’s genesis: “I recorded some lazy-handed synthesizer improvisations to a seemingly blank cassette tape I had found at a thrift store a month back. The next day I was listening back and discovered that the flip side of the tape was not blank and that it contained a room recording of a piano/organ duo’s rehearsal.” The album certainly comes with a grand backstory and pleasingly the music has the gravity to back it up.

In a blunt way The Turning Point sounds like being stuck inside the head of someone with a fever. Rolling their head back and forth, moaning in the sunlight from dehydration, musical notes pummelling them. Even for the adventurous ambient listener this 44-minute album might seem grim and daunting, but as desolate as it can be the little flecks of tune, melody and light are always there egging you on through the darkness.

“Recorded in a dazed and drained state. A hazy focal point for weary minds. A slow-dance record.”

The best ambient music acts as a mirror, it’s not about what the music does but what your brain does to the music. In that sense The Turning Point is a triumph. A sense of undeniable relief is sure to wash over the listener as the album finishes, not because the music is over, but because it so effectively captured our moment of longing to be free from the clouds of despair and anguish. Of feeling relief that it might finally be over.