Pascal Savy | The Silent Watcher
Time: Nov 2012
Media: Digital Download
Info: Tools manipulated in an old workshop, clocks
slowed down, the spinning wheel of a rusty bike,
children playing near a church, the sound of the wind
in Norfolk, climbing up the stairs in a disused windmill,
ghost echoes. Those are some sounds that constitute
the atmosphere of The Silent Watcher. Presented in
their raw form or heavily processed, they all relate to
old memories, often blurred and incomplete; the aural
equivalent of a faded polaroid.
Artist site: http://soundcloud.com/static
PDF Press Release: Download
03. Deconstructing Clues
07. Fading Colours
|REVIEWS | The Silent Watcher
The Silent Watcher presents seven heavily textured, atmospheric settings by electronic music composer Pascal
Savy. For his first full-length album, the London, UK-based producer worked with field recordings of workshop
tools, clock devices, rusty bicycle wheels, children's voices, and so forth (in their unaltered and processed
forms) to create miniature sound narratives of evocative character. Using granular synthesis techniques, Savy
manipulates the source materials so that a hint of their originating identity sometimes remains but also to such a
degree that the materials assume an abstract and open-ended character—much like an image that's so out-of-
focus only glimmers of its outlines remain. Fragments of keyboard melodies, for example, ripple across whispering
drones in “Deconstructing Clues” while a human's distant cry intermittently surfaces. A percolating beat pattern
quietly pulsates throughout “Asleep” as if to mimic sleep's regulated brain activity, while minimal piano notes
punctuate wavering swirls of choral-like drift. Though there's a restless pitter-patter of warm keyboard tones,
echoing ripples, and other noises cascading across the smooth surfaces of “Oblique,” the piece largely sticks
close to its evenly modulated core. A darker undercurrent threading through “Muon” lends it a subtly menacing
ambiance, an impression bolstered by the sounds of nocturnal creatures chattering amidst the percussive clatter
and churn of industrial machinery. Savy's pieces are nominally ambient, though not so much that they blend into
the background like so much wallpaper. Though there are melodic elements, he renders their outlines fuzzy too
so that the melodies are broken up, muffled, and muted, as if heard through a semi-transparent scrim. The
resultant pieces are artful and nuanced, not to mention admirably understated—so much so, in fact, that close
listening is needed for the high quality of the material to be fully appreciated.
Like much of ambient music, there is a filmic quality to Pascal Savy’s new release, The Silent Watcher. But rather
than presenting a panoramic view of some sonic landscape, Savy works in extreme, intimate close-up, pulling
tight focus to capture the intricate workings of things. Gears turn and interlock with stop-motion precision. Ice
crystals climb the length of a blade of grass. An insect’s leg moves on sand. All of it rendered in exquisite slow
motion, the ordinary turned alien, a moment pulled toward the horizon and held there.
Savy’s abstract concepts stem from sounds he’s captured from a variety of sources. The ticking of clocks, a
rusty bike wheel spinning, field recordings…each bent, filtered and manipulated before being tucked with careful
finesse into droning backdrops. There is also an air of sadness throughout, the recollections of things cast off,
our attempts to recapture moments reduced by time and distance to imperfect memories. And yet, for all that
melancholy, The Silent Watcher is never overly heavy or imposing. Savy manages to make it oddly soothing while
maintaining both the emotional feel and the sonic intricacy.
Allow yourself to be guided through Savy’s musings on The Silent Watcher. It’s a trip you’ll be taking more than
once. The Silent Watcher is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
The Silent Watcher falls in the wake of a surge in ambient drone-basing, a dolefully pastoral musically-inclined
specimen, for all that its vales and hills are alive with the sound of non-music; workshop tools, clock devices,
rusty bike wheels, children’s voices, the wind in Norfolk, climbing stairs in a disused windmill – these are a few
of Savy’s favourite found things, fragments of which spectrally populate his domain of expression, seemingly
relating to the fleeting flotsam of memory – scenes un-deleted, dreams re-membered, as it were.
Opening salvoes from Savy are quietly suggestive, both “Distance” and “Contact” proposing a sustained settling
density, with chimes of melody obscured by granular clouds and distant aether-borne synth-echoes and the
flutters and folds of field infusions; these are rendered so as to retain ghost voices of source identity even as
their resonances are abstracted or diffused in a kind of aural halation effect. Things get more involving with
“Deconstructing Clues,” which smears tintinnabulating motifs across a drone bed uneasily populated by spectral
cries and slow falls inward. Just as a somewhat cloying feeling threatens, as the dip in mellow reverb-doused
drones and chimes moves toward something more immersively total, “Asleep” comes; a suddenly techno-
inflected affair of clicks and kicks and bass pulse with dark minimal piano jewels studded through dense drapes
of Murcof-ian micro-orchestration; it incides nicely through the preceding quietude, its darker-hued beat-driven
orientation serving to add depth and variation, and more of this stripe would not hurt (as. the later “Muon”
likewise displays). The sombre solitary mood is returned to on “Oblique,” a slow simmering synth-gloop of
keyboards and chimes, ripples and cascades in a soft miasma of sounds – an atmospheric world later revisited
on the closing “Fading Colours,” which dissolves itself luminously in a velveteen haze of static. Before this the
crepuscular “Muon” has waxed and waned, its cycling particulate fluxions, crepitations and muffled hits sounding
and resounding to great effect. It’s noticeable in fact how those less cosy-warm spaces with their eerier
resonances and liminal machine chatter prove, as with the previous “Asleep,” strangely compelling – more so than
the ostensibly more appealing adjacent pieces.
Overall, then, a more than promising first outing permeated by a sense of carefully engineered choreographing of
atmospheres, and, as such, Savy’s arrangements strike at times as a little too studied – though not over-fussy;
ultimately, though, effective in evoking a state of mildly melancholic reverie. And mastering courtesy of (the
increasingly ubiquitous in this role) Taylor Deupree provides added atmospheric heft, unearthing the life behind
things within The Silent Watcher.
Pascal Savy is a London-based electronic music composer who started experimenting with sequencers and
synthesizers in the late nineties. Being influenced by the Detroit techno scene, he started making recordings of
his output on tapes and mini-discs.
"The Silent Watcher" started on the initial idea of exploring sounds from very old memories that had somehow
crystallized into an abstract mental gallery. Well, the seven pieces on "The Silent Watcher" reveal some nice
craftsmanship embedded in the warm, introspective slightly melodic atmospheres, which features lots of lost
and found sounds as well. While carefully assembling granular textures, organic fragments and field
recordings, there’s a sense of longing and melancholy running through Savy’s quiet, smoothly layered ambient
soundscape excursions, which are related to old childhood memories. "Asleep" has a rhythmic, repetitive
structure with clicks, effects and dense atmospheres. A hypnotizing whirl of sedate sounds is also found on
the almost 9-minute "Oblique", a pure and honest atmospheric world that also marks on the great album closer
All in all, "The Silent Watcher" is a precisely mapped-out work of slow music and sound art, best experienced
through headphones to catch it’s wonderful detail, warmth and moody spheres. This music for the slow lane
will appear to be very rewarding when you give it focused and repeated listening.
Pascal Savy started in the 90s playing Detroit techno, recorded onto tapes and minidiscs and stopped for quite
some time. Now he’s back, concentrating on more ambient textured music. To that end he uses field recordings
made in an old workshop, the slowing down of clocks, the spinning wheel of a rusty bike, children playing and
such like. In his music he treats these sounds on the computer and mixes both the raw, unprocessed parts
with the processed ones. It would be too easy to say his music is all ambient. Savy uses sustaining sounds
for sure, build from small extracts of his field recordings, but an important feature is also the use of loops.
Sometimes these loops are worked into something that can be called a rhythm, like in ‘rhythm machines’ – or
perhaps he just added those? The seven tracks make a pretty strong impression, while at the same time its
perhaps not much new under the sun of microsound, ambient, field recordings and drones. Savy adds small
musical touches to the material, such as the piano like sounds in ‘Deconstructing Clues’, which makes this
less abstract than the average release in this field. Excellent production – great compositions. Should have
been a real CD, I think. (Frans de Waard).
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