By Magda Wrzeszcz
Russell.M.Harmon’s debut EP opens very ominously, with the ‘bed of machine music’ mentioned in his bio – a phrase that completely sold me on his sound. Previously known as her.eyes.like_static, Russell abandoned UK for Reykjavik, started to record under his own name and came up with an instrumental, minimal record that’s absolutely captivating.
The tone of the EP is set by the title and from the opening, ominous ‘Amidst Wolves’ it only gets darker. The iciness of Iceland can definitely be heard in ‘Without You, I’d Cease’ – a beautiful piece that starts with silence punctuated only by piano keys and electronic sound, reminding me of a heart monitor. It’s the monitor that cuts the silence with a sound sharp as an icicle, creating a solitary, cold sound space that soon unravels into a melody building up to a heartbreaking and desperate crescendo. It’s 7 minutes and 20 seconds of the most beautiful, sound painted sadness.
The theme of heartbeat and monitor follows in ‘Like Blood Off A Dove’s Back’, where the sound of the piano is suffocated and the monitor torn and ripped apart by heavy guitar riffs. Perfectly timed chords guide through ‘Tragedy Fractures’, another 7 minute piece with spiralling dark melody leading to ‘An Ending To Everything; The Ending Means Everything’. The last composition on the EP opens with chords that bring to mind Chopin’s nocturnes. The heart monitor is not there anymore. The melancholy and despair is overcoming. The last flat note fading into painful nothing only underlines that there was more to be had and the final wasn’t necessary – yet inevitable.
As far as electronic ambient music goes, Russell.M.Harmon delivered an EP that’s a little conceptual masterpiece. His music is brilliantly atmospheric, however dark and gloomy (which shouldn’t come as a surprise knowing he worked with Ghosting Season / worriedaboutsatan). It’s one of the records that I feel privileged to have listened to – the theme creates a certain intimacy between the artist and the listener and I feel like I’ve been let into someone’s deeply hidden secret, painted with musical notes. Now I can only impatiently wait for a full album.