“To shine, burn and ultimately dissipate away”
In 2019, Ambient drone maestro zakè released his acclaimed album ‘Orchestral Tape Studies’. The release was a stoic yet pensive meditation of the universe composed of orchestral looping textures, subtle field recordings and warm lulling drones. It’s an album I had on extensive repeat for a long period of the year it was released because it absolutely knew what it was trying to do and knocked it out of the park.
In 2023, amongst an already steady catalogue of releases over the past few years (including the spectacular Stasis sounds for space travel collaborative albums with English dronemaker 36) zakè returns with his follow up album ‘Orchestral Tape studies II’ Released on the hugely prolific label ‘Past inside the Present’.
With this 2nd album in the Orchestral tape Studies Series, zakè absolutely doubles down on what made the first album so good, with better production, a stronger sense of focus and intention in what the series does and a greater mastery to execute these grandiose yet restrained visions of pensive orchestral drone ambient. Everything here feels perfectly executed, the instruments are clean and spacious without feeling lifeless, the noise/field recordings all add a warm atmosphere without ever muddying the overall quality of the album and the use of drones/synths adds a whole other element to the record without ever sounding overbearing.
The album makes reference to influence from early minimalist composers (without it naming names, but if i had to assume i can definitely hear works by Arvo Part and Joep Franssens). The album draws from these influences in a fantastic manner. Marrying the awe inspiring almost overview effect inducing sounds of these composers with the lush beautiful droneworks zakè has become so synonymous with in recent years. The contributions added by Cellist Olivia May, Viola player Charlotte Frizzell and guitarist Damien Duque bring a sense of life and energy to the recordings captured. The result is patient reflective music on a cinematic scale.
One thing that I personally to commend zakè on with his work is how he uses field recordings, when listening to a lot of drone/ambient a lot of field recording work can really try to emphasise a specific space or texture that can feel uninvited and almost forceful of the mindset it’s trying to impose on you, With zakè’s use of them however, the complete opposite is true, the recordings while definitely present (for example at the beginning of in return) really compliment the whole track well and add a great atmosphere to the entire album, it has definable characteristics that give you some sense of feeling but its elusive qualities truly invite space for the listener to interpret the mental environment as they see fit.
If I could best describe the way to listen to an album like this, it’s basically anywhere you can be alone and self reflective, I listened to the original orchestral tape studies at home alone/near the river near my house, at the grocery store, and each time it was a perfect accompaniment to whatever was going on internally and externally. It’s an album that rewards deep listening and gives space for a lot of self reflection. The rising and falling of all the textures to shine this really beautiful light that dims and either returns differently or disappears forever really is something special to listen to. The 3 Lament for strings tracks on this album highlight this aspect perfectly.
Overall zakè has created another fantastic release in already consistently solid catalogue, fans of his previous work will likely understand what to expect and thoroughly enjoy it, for readers of our magazine who are aware of such works as stars of the lid or William Basinski, I thoroughly advise you to check this album out, You wont regret it.
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