When I was little I used to go on holiday to Austria with my parents. Sometimes we’d go in the winter and other times in the summer. One thing we always did was take a cable car to the top of one of the Tyrolean mountains. It was a weird feeling being carried up a mountain in a tinbox by metal cables. When we got to the top the views were incredible. Even as a child I knew that the views were impressive. One holiday in the winter we went up to a glacier. I didn’t know what it was but was excited to see one. Little did I know that the glacier was just a load of ice. At the time I was disappointed as I wanted to see something impressive. Like a stadium, church, another massive mountain on top of a massive mountain, but it was just a load of ice. As I listen to Still by Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist I’m reminded of this trip.
The album opens with ‘-2 °C’. Airy synths swirl out of the speakers while a deep drone slowly grinds its way towards me. This opening salvo works not only as an introduction to the track but to the album itself. Everything that follows is of the small ilk. ‘Undercooled’ is a bit busier but generally it’s the same thing. Here, though, the melodies are crisper, giving the ‘Uncooled’ an edge that the opener was missing. The standout track is ‘Hoarfrost’. Here Rostami and Blomquist add some sounds of birds and running water to the mix. These elements take us out of the serene drones and plant us in the real world. The field recordings also give the song a sense of urgency that is missing from the rest of the album.
Still lives up to its name. Rostami and Blomquist aren’t rushing anything here. They are taking their time and delivering some exquisite drones that do enough to keep your attention whilst keeping it, well, still. Mostly the album works. A lot of the heavy lifting is done by the huge, slab like, synths. As they move forward, one drone at a time, you do get the impression of glaciers. Gradually turning mountains to rumble and cutting out valleys where there wasn’t one before. The downside to the album is that the slightly light, faster, melodies aren’t quite as engaging as I hoped, so my attention was lost from time to time. It always came back to the music, but after a few moments it was lost again. This is an album to play while concentrating on another task. That sounds harsh, and slightly belittles the richness of the music, but there wasn’t enough variation to keep me engaged for the full 55-minutes.
While listen to Still, I’m back up the mountain looking down at the valleys and gorges, the glacier violently cut through the landscape. Despite the tourists everything is quiet and still. It might snow later, but it probably won’t. Ultimately it doesn’t matter as the glacier will still be here tomorrow. As will the album. Perhaps then I’ll find its inner secrets, but if I don’t, I know it’ll be an enjoyable experience finding out.