Fish II

Fish Season


Sam L. Barker

February 4, 2024

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Diving deep into an ambient sound, Fish II brings the dreamy terror of the oceans to your stereo

A surprisingly fearful energy emerges at the very start of Fish II. The opening track of the album, Long Fish, enters with an enormous fog-horn of synth rolling over the listener. It is an imposing, grand start to an album which seeks to depict the murky depths of the ocean.

The cover art of Fish II is, in contrast, fairly pleasing at first glance. It initially calls to mind the kind of peppy, sunshine, ocean-flavoured yacht rock of the 80s. But looking at the artwork a little longer, with the surf of sound sweeping over, it begins to look a little more gloomy. The rainbow arch and the weird – almost prog rock – font. The ocean crinkled and xeroxed rather than fresh. What once initially appeared carefree now looks more dense and considered. This is an album that seeks to challenge rather than comfort.

This framing clicks with the album tagline, promising “25 minutes of subdued immersion into ethereal waters via dreamlike clouds of analog synthesizers and tape delays.” When contemplating the idea of floating through a daunting cosmos rather than the azure Mediterranean, everything starts to make a little more sense.

The album more than delivers on that promise. Fish II is a haunting exercise, with the two towering tracks, 25 minutes each, proving an unrelenting exercise in deep-sea exploration. It is a deeply atmospheric and ambient album, one which is slow-moving, grand and unrelenting. Comprised mostly of huge panes of Crumar, Behringer, Moog, Roland and Korg synths, there are shards of whale song and dolphin noise that pepper the otherwise impenetrable depths of sound here.

Coming with some pedigree: the album represents the second outing for Paul Riedl & Morris Kolontyrsky under their unified Fish Season project moniker. With the previous Fish Season: Cosmic River releasing in 2021. Kolontyrsky and Riedl both have backgrounds as metal musicians, which adds a layer of complexity and flair to their decision to put together a heavy ambient project. But, then again, the emotions it stirs are mostly of fear, so these two clearly know how to turn the screws, whether by guitar or synthesiser.  

For fans of the bleaker, experimental corners of ambient and experimental music, Fish II offers a deep, wide pool to float in. While it may prove challenging for less intense fans of the genre, for those looking for a curveball full of atmosphere and concept, Fish II will prove deeply rewarding.