Night Visions



Liam Murphy

January 26, 2023

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Detailed scenes emerge through ambient soundscapes, harbouring both tranquil and eerie moments

When it comes to ambient music, instilling a sense of tranquility is a fairly natural pathway to take. This is not to say that doing so is easy, but if you present warm tones that flow in the right way, you will evoke a feeling of repose and calm within the listener. What’s not as easy however, is delivering a sound that walks a unique line between calm and disquiet, dipping into both when it feels justified. This is exactly what the beginning of Night Visions delivers. On the first track, distant, rolling piano samples set an eerie tone with a deep texture that does not repulse or repel. Quite the opposite, in fact. Something draws the listener inwards. Jagged and sudden is the change in pitch as the samples switch between each other, and as icy piano begins to fall onto the incredible textures, one doesn’t know if they are travelling through an ambient scene or some creepy dream landscape. 

The long and purposeful repetition only draws out this feeling of unease, like a disquieting vision that you can’t take your gaze away from. But there is an unmistakable calm present as well. It is evident in the slowly swaying pads that create a warm scene and the phasing undulations that peak and ebb like calming waves. Somehow, almost magically, Swedish artist Motionfield is able to transition from this creepiness to a distinctly positive and tranquil phase in the second half of the first track. The artist’s timing is precise as the switch takes place, the breathlessness felt from the cold beginning is soothed by blossoming pads and warm, affirming notes. 

Once again, the second track places the listener in a strange and eerie position, at what feels like a great height. Long strands of sound disappear down below, a solemn trumpet playing notes that are lost to an endless cavern as they fade out. The ambient sound gives a sensation of falling… the strikingly slow pad movements the result of a euphoric state as we plummet endlessly. After a couple of minutes of this sensation, the listener exits from this dark and seemingly endless abyss, cushioned by new recorded sound, into a scene with a train and the squeaking of metal structures. Somehow managing a soft landing into a more familiar context, Motionfield offers low rumbling that emanates from all around, snaking its way in with euphoric notes carried on the back of it. From a disorientating freefall, into a city scene where the vista offered to the listener bubbles and flows in a tranquil manner. It is not an easy switch to make, much less so while keeping a calculated, ambient style.

These transitions do not explain all of what makes Night Visions so fantastic. The sheer scale of each track is something to behold as well. With four excursions each measuring around 20 minutes, Motionfield seems impressively capable of keeping things engaging as minutes float by. The different stages of each song move with a poise and patience that is hard to achieve. Throughout, Motionfield holds tightly to the ambient style. A slight wavering from this happens at the beginning of track three, however, as instrumentation emerges with a more sci-fi feel to it. Uplifting piano samples providing a perfect basis for a synth melody to launch like a spaceship into the dark beyond. Other than this, things stay safely within the scope of ambient, from euphoric pads and samples to thoughtful, introverted loops.

The release offers a truly soothing listening experience. Ambient soundscapes reveal themselves, and the care and precision Motionfield has exerted is evident. But what is most striking about Night Visions is the unique shifts from soothing to spectral. Both harbour that dreamlike feeling, but it is the movement between the two that make this release a memorable one.