Marco Vella X Kyle Jorgensen – Shadow Mountain Review

Shadow Mountain cover art

Above Negative, a Berlin based label, are set to release their debut record, Shadow Mountain which is a cross-medium collaborative project between Sydney-based artist Marco Vella and American visual artist Kyle Jorgensen.  Part musical project, part art book, it explores the partnership between Vella’s sounds and Jorgensen’s visuals, a delicately crafted marriage that creates an aural and visual ambience that would be better described as a piece of artwork than a mere record.

The release has been a long time in the making, beginning in 2012 with Vella “trawling the internet for visual inspiration to encourage and inspirit my songwriting” he adds that “discovering Kyle’s work and re-listening to the songs I was writing, I was convinced of the aesthetic similarities between our art”. That connection between the two is clear to see throughout the record, the way in which the soft and subtle melodies draw the listener in, creating a landscape for Jorgensen’s visuals that is entwined with Vella’s delicate and moving sounds. There is a surreal feel to the whole record, the two mediums combining perfectly to create a landscape that entices the listener into a Dali-esque reality, the boundaries between visual art and music broken down, challenging the listeners ideas of music and how its packaged. The dark textures and layered synths accompanied with the warped nature of Jorgensen’s visuals create a new dream like sublimity where the realities between different mediums is removed from the idea that they are two separate entities, with each artist combining perfectly to create a new, forward thinking experience for the listener.

The record begins with ‘Tall’, an open and spacious soundscape layered with smooth drums. The cosmic scenery throughout the record is abundant, indulging the listener to begin a journey into a new dream like reality. The record moves onto ‘Why’ the first single to be released, hinged around a deep bassline reminiscent of the spaciousness and loneliness of New Order or Joy Division. The perfectly poised transitions allowing the music to flow – twisting

and turning through an endless maze, smoothly opening up textures within the song, enticing the listener into a full sensory experience that goes beyond the generic sounds often heard within electronics more commercialized compatriots. The surreal and dark world that the record seduces the listener into is clear throughout, with tracks such as ‘Pattern’ with its haunting melody or ‘Runner’ which opens a landscape far beyond the realities of the real world and into a synth laden existence that fits perfectly with Jorgensen’s dream like visuals. Tracks such as ‘On Set’ offer the listener deep, tight drums, increasing the pace of the album but never quite boiling over, keeping the smooth, laidback. The listener is brought back down to earth with the final track, ‘Awake From Noise’ buoyed by sprightly guitar sounds, its uplifting feel a perfect ending to a subliminal listening experience.

The ideology behind the record, that the visuals and music break down the barriers of art, refusing to be separated into their component parts, looks to have set a future template for further Above Negative releases. The visuals are a perfect match for the synth based tracks that offer a rare insight into the workings of the two artists and allows the listener to submerge themselves into a realm where barriers are none existent, where different components refuse to be restricted to one artistic medium and there is a world of endless possibilities. Through his exceptional vision and originality, Vella holds the ability to hypnotize with repetitive beats, sparse sound tracks and profound melodies, pushing the listener to lose themselves in the music, open their minds and enter a world encapsulated by deep atmospheric synths. Throughout this record one thing is for certain, Above Negative have managed to set a precedent for future collaborative releases with this exceptional release and hopefully there is more to come.

Matthew Kay

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