For the third album under the Selaxon Lutberg alias, Andrea Penso has come back with a new release titled “Accidental Symbols” with the express purpose of demonstrating to us the impact that certain life events have upon us in our early years. Not only how these events affected us at the time but also further down the road as we become adults and these opinions and thoughts begin to solidify. At least, that’s the idea anyway, an insight into Penso’s formative years through Ambient music.
We open with the illustriously titled “Untitled 1” – all the tracks are similarly untitled – to a little wiggle of fluttering synth, an odd injection of life into an otherwise melancholy matrix of subsequent dark drones and cloying, reverbed, slow guitar. There’s a thick sub-bass that permeates the piece also, a deepseated rumble carefully ebbing and flowing as the processed guitar loops continue their depressing migration above. There’s a Douglas Adams quote that I feel is marginally appropriate here;
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move”.
It feels like Penso is mirroring this sentiment as it fills with something akin to depression and teenage angst, contemplating the worthlessness of existence. “Untitled 2” comes right in to pick up the pieces but does not serve to lighten the mood, simply diffusing the tensions created. It’s only a short interlude, a little intermission filled with fuzzy drones, but it’s enough.
“Untitled 3” has a light on the horizon. Through the thick, jaded organ fog come these little slivers of light, some utterly unrecognisable instrumentation cutting through the fugue in gentle waves in these slowly looping pulses. The whole track is sparse, unchaotic, almost menacingly peaceful, like the fringe of some past battle site. There’s no wistfulness here, only fact, just a somewhat clear memory that has for some reason stuck, something in the slowly clearing air after a period of mourning. As we move into the mid-album with “Untitled 4” this hazy lightness continues on, becoming progressively more prominent in these, what sound like, tired tape loops. There’s still a lingering sadness in the slow, thin melodies but it’s clearing now.
It’s getting menacing and darker again in “Untitled 5” however; a cycling bass beat starts kicking through the track like a heartbeat, a creepy sustained rhythm that the unsettling field recordings and wavering organ drones thrive off. Gradually, second by second, the whole thing moves in a great wave as it gains height and mass, growing in volume and power, some threatening event creating tension and questioning realities progressively escalating. It eventually plateaus off in a moment of hesitation and then it’s gone, the moment passed. And “Untitled 6” also passes this moment off as anomalous as the album picks right up where it left off. Looped vocal fragments come through strongly and have a surprisingly powerful influence on the direction of this track, even though I think it is an unnecessary introduction.
Fortunately “Untitled 7” does away with the gratuitous female intrusion and strikes a generally more evocative tone by suppressing the sound of the human voice, instead injecting it into the mix as distal and echoic splinters of noise sounding ghostly and ethereal, like trying to remember a long forgotten face and conversation. They blend seamlessly with the background noise of our mind, these glacial, thick drones probably composed of heavily distorted organ, mirroring the difficulties we have in retaining memories as they rise up in heavy waves with the voices, desperately searching our memory banks but ultimately overshadowing that which they seek in the first place. Finally “Untitled 8” picks up the mantel to lead us out, away from Penso’s early years and into his adult life. The summary of all those agglomerated moments brought to bear in the closer. Bent, drawn out guitars are detectable once again, leading out their own micro-drones alongside the more powerful organ, but both merging together at times to further instill this idea of change and influence. It is a depressing finisher though, a casting glance back at our young lives we’re leaving behind and feeling pangs of regret and a desire to return, this nostalgia and sadness creeping over us in these slow drone washes.
Is it possible to get a sense of what these events in Penso’s early life were? Not really, but we are given an insight into the emotional rollercoaster that it was. Largely we either look back at the better moments with a pang of wist and a desire to return, but also the more sad and lonely moments with those same sensations and a certain desire to avoid that feeling again. We’ve learnt enough in these formative years, it’s finally time to move on and start using that knowledge. It’s clearly a deep and heartfelt release but it’s hard to see the framework and while easy to emapthise with, not so easy to sympathise with. Not as enthralling on repeat listen but decent nonetheless.
Album to be released on the 15th November via Denovali.