More sparse than previous records (and also more emphatically electronic), Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings finds the British trio known as The Remote Viewers continuing to explore strange scenery. While what they do clearly has a limited audience, they manage to carve out a musical landscape that defies comparison and, consequently, makes for a captivating listen for those who dare visit it.
Starting off with a reading of David Sylvian’s “Ghosts” that is almost completely unrecognizable until Louise Pett’s delicate yet disconnected vocals enter, the group quickly established the groundwork for the record; they create an aural environment that has much to do with space. There is little conventional melody, although there are motifs that seem to materialize out of nothing, as in “The Frontier of Presence”; with the exception of “Internal Securement” there are no regular rhythms. Still, with compositions that do have some sense of construction, the group finds ways to articulate a distinct point of view.
With an approach that to some degree owes to Brian Eno’s landmark Ambient Series of the ‘80s, the group fashions soundscapes that are minimal yet surprisingly direct. “The Unlistening Vent,” with its industrial sounding backdrop, features Adrian Northover on a soprano saxophone that is so buried in the weeds that it is almost indiscernible.
With a cinematic approach, the Remote Viewers create pieces that could easily be soundtracks to the strange and unusual. “The Frontier of Presence,” with its theremin-sounding theme and gradually building backwash, sounds like it would work with David Lynch’s Eraserhead. “Inside the Unwanted Bond,” with its piercing microtonal saxophone work, might easily suit portions of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
It is difficult to actually recommend this recording without having some kind of context within which to place it, and this is music so unusual, so unique, that it challenges categorization. Suffice to say that Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings will appeal to fans of the more outward of Brian Eno’s work, as well as the more alien landscapes of Holger Czukay, David Sylvian and Laurie Andersen. The Remote Viewers is an apt name, indeed, for a group of improvisers who seem to view largely alien vistas from a distance.
Visit The Remote Viewers on the web.