Blue Sky Research - Inshore Waters EP
Jonathan Fisher - also known as Blue Sky Research and the admin of Hippocamp.net, a Manchester England based netlabel - has taken a slight departure on Inshore Waters from his previous beat driven synth pastorals. The very brief EP - it clocks in at under ten minutes with four tracks - was inspired by the “changing weather” he encountered on a trip to the English coast. The pieces are steeped in gentle acoustic guitar sound-phantoms alongside touches of harmonica, a disaffected weather forcast, and sounds of the coast.
The album’s opener, Firth of Tay, glides in with the ease of an Ahmad Szabo or Apollo-era Brian Eno - tactfully coaxing the character of a windchime from delay-drenched guitar and harmonica samples and then gliding as effortlessly back into the misty silences it casually shuffled from in just over 60 seconds. This, and the two closing pieces - Firth of Tay Forcast (which draws on just the guitar sounds from the opening piece) and North Foreland (a distant reverberation of sitar-like harmonica and the sighing crashing of waves) - offer themselves as fleeting textural Haiku. Each briefly explores the particular cadences of a chosen set of sounds much as the eye might passingly move from rock to rock and crest to crest in viewing a scene like the one depicted in the album’s accompanying photograph.
Bristol Channel, however, settles down for a few moments to take in the entire scene. Plucked guitar tones ebb like rolling waves around a subtle drone melody one might expect to be trumpeted from the blowhole of an Atlantic-dwelling whale who had done a bit of study in Buddhism and the pronouncement of “Om.” Rhodes-like guitars eventually chime gentle harmonic patterns over top until slipping away again a minute later and leaving only the swiftly retreating decay of muted guitar.
Like Szabo’s This Book is About Words Fisher’s Inshore Waters fragments warm samples of acoustic guitar into ambient chamber works - but Fisher doesn’t make his edits hard. The allure of the glitch is sacrificed for small moments that bleed seamlessly into each other. DSP is largely ignored for the simple transformations of delay, reverse, and reverb - and the guitar is left to its natural texture.
This EP is a lovely aural snapshot of a pleasant trip not far from home, handed discreetly to the listener for an impressionistic recap of the journey.
(hippocamp is currently moving its mp3 archives to another server - the album is down at time of writing, but should be back up soon if Jon gets scene.org to host the files. it’s worth the wait.)