At a time when ambient music has taken on new-age connotations through endless Bandcamp pages that peddle handmade cassettes from the obscure hippies, ambient records rarely make their presence felt in the way of Brian Eno’s mediative, unhurried synthesiser music of the eighties and seventies. Ambient music today draws closer connotations to spa retreats than airports and very rarely do we find a record that carries on a tradition of this genre as an continuation of the Eno philosophy.
The last record to do that was Dominick Fernow’s Ambient black magic project, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement from last year, which felt the closest we’ve come to a progression of Eno’s Music for Airports in quite some time, even from Eno himself. It seems however that more artists have taken note of this vacuum in music, and Anthony Linell is the latest to find solace in the calm reflective pool of the ambient genre for his latest album on the Northern Electronic label.
Linell, who has always hopped between the experimental realm of electronic music and Techno is probably best known for his energised club constructs as Abdulla Rashim, mostly found on his Northern Electronics imprint. A formidable presence in the world of Techno, Linell across his various aliases, has garnered the respect of the scene, as one of its more progressive minds, extending the sound of labels like Studio Barnhus and Semantica into the furthest realms of possibility for electronic music.
A Sense of Order finds Linell in more contemplative mood however, where legato melodic lines linger amongst a hazy drone and the electronic chirps of a simulated environment. There’s no new-age mysticism or spiritual plateau in Linell’s work on the album, but rather a just whisper of tones slipping in and out of the background. Tensions build through the modulating swell of sustained chords, never breaking beyond the surface before they resolve through repetitive passages that feature no discernible beginning nor end. There’s an unease to the music, a distinctive aspect in Linell’s music, but it’s never as upfront or confrontational as it is on his Techno jaunts. He exercises some noticeable constraint on A Sense of Order that at times like “Leaves of Glass” is almost completely serene.
Individually the tracks make no permanent statement, as they should with fleeting melodic lines leaving no superlative mark beyond that moment of time and the sonic texture never indulging more than a peaceful swell. The sonic atmosphere is constant and even when the title track carries connotation to Vangelis’ excursions on the Blade Runner soundtrack, it never amounts to anything more than a fleeting throughout in the immoveable presence of the album.