Label: Colectivo Casa Amarela
Given that Ulnar comprises of Rui P. Andrade and Vitor Bruno Pereira (of Aires, Verãopop, Shikabala), my expectations were quite high going in to Dreaming Of Sailing Further West. The duo had previously worked together on Pânico-Ambiente, a record of harsh noise, but this new release leans more towards the ambient side of the noise spectrum. There are harsher elements than a typical ambient album would contain, but Dreaming Of… casts a deeply meditative, captivating spell over the listener for its half hour duration, conjuring up atmospheres of desolation, loss, and yet also something close to redemption.
Dreaming Of… is not the kind of record that can be fully appreciated on first listen. Whilst its appeals are obvious enough – with long, ambient-drone passages mixing smoothly with more unsettling textures and moments of noise – there are small details within the record that take time to unlock. Second track ‘Volcanic Ash’ is a prime example, with what sounds like muffled voices buried in its droning soundscape during the first part of the track; but that they are absent later on comes to feel significant with repeated listens, suggesting a sense of narrative and direction that can often be lacking in ambient music. This is amplified by the sense of flow to Dreaming Of…, where each track feels as if it builds upon the one that came before it in some way, subtly altering the mood and tone of the album whilst remaining consistent. It’s a difficult thing to achieve, yet that Ulnar have done so underlines the experience and skill of those involved.
Yet I suspect that many listeners will quickly find themselves immersed in the depths of Dreaming Of…, exploring its secrets and mysteries eagerly. The record is deeply addictive, with enough up-front appeal to pull in fans of ambient and drone, but it also possesses more than enough strength and mystery to keep listeners immersed within its soundscapes. That sense of narrative, and of tapping in to something greater than just music, is what raises Dreaming Of… above most other ambient and drone records, and the way it moves between existential horror, vistas of empty wastelands, and moments of profound (almost joyful) revelation is something to behold. Possibly the best part is that the experience of all those involved means that this is no accident, and this sense of unfolding narrative and shifting emotions is completely intentional. It’s a remarkable thing to behold, and Dreaming Of Sailing Further West is a trip that fans of challenging, adventurous music will surely want to revisit many times.
Dreaming Of Sailing Further West is available via Bandcamp.