Rival Consoles - Overflow
June 28, 2022
Drone ambient officianado Seffi Starshine rereleases EP Virtual Goddess on the label Houdini Mansions. No stranger to tackling large conceptual projects, Seffi’s catalogue is large and serves as an indication of her skill and experience.
Virtual Goddess begins with Office Drone Blaster. Slowly and cautiously the first lingerings of sound eddy into view. The initial sparks are of dissonant atmosphere, but gradually the landscape reveals itself. The shape moving towards us seems simultaneously to be the ghostly reverb of something, as well as the form itself. So often an artist will introduce their euphoria with a simple wet reverb. Seffi’s build up works a touch differently, we feel and hear a fully formed entity approaching, as well as the legions of echoes and offshoots it carries. It’s not long before we are enveloped in digitised glimmer. Highs and lows are represented in an unyielding majesty. The torrent of sound pushes further and further, little intricacies cooling slowly against the mass of sound seeping over everything. Great waves of highs take almost a minute to break and rescind. Within the 11-minutes runtime, the artists takes us to a precipice a fair few times and we can only glimpse the endless flowing of intense starlight that she has created. We begin to hear echoed voices deep within the body of the sound. Haunting undulations of voices lost to the overrunning stream. The second half sees Seffi pull back the high-level frequency, leaving us with hollow mumbling. But the all-encompassing torrent can only be held for so long. The full sound comes oozing back in. Towards the end the higher frequencies leave for good. All that remains is the low shifting of sonic plates under our feet.
CGA Starshine begins a little more suddenly. Evidently-graceful pads float in along with whistling harmonics. This sound, unlike the last, seems a little more organic. It wharbles slightly, caught on certain frequency levels. Foggy waves career from side to side in the background, like glacial bergs of angelic sound. The song employed a focus on a higher set of frequencies than that of the last. The low sounds that we hear are less prominent, allowing for a more tuneful experience. Drone ambient music focuses less on conclusive note sequences and more on the increasing or decreasing of certain harmonies. In this song we hear certain notes being taken out of the equation momentarily, as Seffi creates a dynamic environment. This lack of conclusion gives the music an open-ended and hypnotic appeal, and this particular artists has mastered these tropes consistently.
Virtual Goddess F.A.E commences with what sounds like a voice. A high, reverberating choir sound that moves dead centre toward us, as misty sound collects either side. The dissonant undulations of the track move a little more prominently than the melody at first. But like all good drone ambient, the devil is most certainly in the details. The artist presents us with an amorphous flowing sound, and we identify the intricate parts of it, like a timid being coming to know a leviathan of unknown origin and strength. Whispering tones reach out to us from across the atmospheric plane. Halfway through, deep rumblings can be heard like rolling drumbeats. But they slowly pass like all else. This track is a lot more reserved than others, the melody caught up in a torrent of whispered shifting. All fades, all withering as the track gradually comes to a close.
DOS by Dusk starts with what sounds like the first real-world sound of the EP. The low sounds at the beginning sound like a field recording of a dark, sleeping city. Wind blows through relentlessly. The ambivalent nature of the sounds on the EP keep us isolated, without closure or structure. We are cast adrift, hoping Seffi will steer the course to salvation. With it’s high-end frequencies clipped, a sound grows restricted to a low reverbed prison. It resonates loudly through the mid-way point. Overdriven whistling strip away from the body of the sound. There is a definite sense of hold and release in the filters applied to each sound, every now and again Seffi let’s a sound reach it’s true, unhindered resonance, only to snatch it back. The track ambles calmly to and end.
Sleepytime for CGA Sprites begins with nostalgic synth sounds joining together in a glitched data stream. Through the focus on acute sounds Seffi has, we are permitted to hear the never-ending, intricate patterns that reside within the sound. Over the top of that, formless pads reach across. We can clearly hear certain synth notes being actioned, giving this track a ghost of a structure or melodic narrative. The sounds float there, neither dooming or explicitly chirpy in tone. A great cloud of digital vapour begins to appear overhead. The binary sequence of the synth sound can still be heard, like a hive of tones pouring over each other. Again, the artist works the strings of the track like wires on a ventriloquist dummy caught in and endless, slow-motion freefall. She slowly promotes and relegates notes and sounds with an unflinching certainty. The note we depended upon to anchor us to the cloud of sound could easily fall away at any minute. A beautiful menagerie of sound has presented itself to us at the mid-point. The sequencing synths have become a cacophony of rolling harmonics that hangs together as a membranous entity. Pads travel softly over its surface toward the listener. No sense that this is the last track of the EP, no fan fair or evident catharsis. Though the poise delivered in each song is one of confidence, with the power to envelop and submerge. The melodic wind continues to whistle by the myriad of tones. Huge pads peel off whistling as they branch out from the main body. A calmness soldiers on through the uncertain sounds, something at the heart of each of the ventures on the EP drives forward with an unflinching spirit. That spirit ebbs away, like a great comet that has suddenly turned its path away from where we are sat. Slowly it fades away from us, leaving with us a great feeling of epiphanic importance and value.
The music the artist creates seems to will the listener to confront their own self. The soft and slow movements of the sounds invite our own interpretation and thought. And in Virtual Goddess, we are this crystallised in 5 tracks. A stop-and-think EP, willing us to take a strange, cosmological journey.
Listen/purchase here: https://houdinimansions.bandcamp.com/album/virtual-goddess