Fluorescent Heights – Tidal Motions (2013)

Steven Ramsey aka Belloqshhhhhhh from tape label Constellation Tatsu wrote to me recently (I say recently, several weeks ago now) with some very gracious free downloads of their recent January tapes batch (available here). Some were better than others and I dont have the time to cover all of them so I wanted to focus on one of the shorter releases of the batch and also my favourite.

fluorescent-heights-tidal-motions-cs-2013-constellation-tatsu

Fluorescent Heights released an album 2 years ago that I have wanted to check out and have been recommended multiple times called Tourism; sadly I never got around to it although I was promised an album bathed in warm synth drone and nostalgia, so I was looking forward to getting to check out their work for the first time with this release and have a similar experience.

“Day” opens the album to the warbles and wobbles of bubbles alongside gently unfolding yet piercing drone. It’s actually extremely reminiscent of some of the work Belong have done ala October Language just with a bit more grace and a little more fidelity, but it still retains that deeply familiar nostalgia and that sense of memory revival, like you’re looking back wistfully at a perfect summer day from your youth, a bleary haze of sun and surf that was perfectly, pleasantly relaxed. It moves gracefully into the shimmering, looped synths of “Blue Island” and we sit entranced for the next 5 minutes as we listen to their thin and faded melodies cycle endlessly. I’m not sure a big fan of this track, I think it’s possibly the weakest part of the album for me, but it begins to reinforce the notion of the tides and their endlessness, that the same surf that once lapped your toes on holiday years before continues to do so in the same fashion now and forever.

After a somewhat abrupt end (again repeated in later tracks which I find rather disappointing), “New Sun” appears and, while it once again takes a somewhat repetitive tone there’s something much more pleasant and somehow simultaneously unsettling in its carefully and delicately evolving tones. The fundamental melody is always there but those fine synths duck and glimmer in and out unnervingly. Of course the repetition of the tides continues through into the more “Blue Island”-esque “Holiday Mirage” as it brings back those similarly crystalline synths; that same feeling of frozen time reoccurs here with its quavering bright notes of piercing sunlight tumbling through aged neurons.

The closer of this rather short album “Reaching The Open Ocean”, which also happens to be the longest track of the album, arrives sooner than I’d like after only 20 minutes, but its endless synth drones and additional length do make a nice compensation. The waves crash in slow motion and for the next 7 minutes we’re paralysed by the gently oscillating technicolour vibes that this album has carefully built up and spun out, and even when it cuts off abruptly it doesnt feel quite finished, leaving a brief moment of silence for us to sit contentedly in the warm hues lingering over this record and finish contemplating our own memories before we need to return to the real world.

The album feels unfinished but I think, well, I hope, it’s deliberate, a little note to remind us that such memories and experiences can always be appended, that there are always future past memories to be had and those blissed out moments we relish are to be had once more. Its gauzy synths and blurred drones slathered in reverb and entertaining just a hint of low-fidelity succumb to the cliché that many similar albums fall to but Fluorescent Heights manage to pull it off without being cheesy; definitely one to recommend if you’re looking for something short and sweet.

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