Congregations – Circular Ruins

‘Circular Ruins’ is the post-humous release by Congregations, a project that featured a rotating line-up, the only constant member being edmonton ambient musician David Ferris who is also a member of drone / jazz trio TAIWAN whose first album, ‘Belladonna’  was reviewed early in the summer.

Lush, spacial, and delicate are a few of the descriptors that could be used to describe the ambient beauty that is Congregations first and last album. ‘Circular Ruins’ is massive without being crushing or oppressive. Tracks such as ‘Found In The Ravine (Zain)’, You Are Trembling’ and ‘Hayley’ are brimming with a sea of sounds; sounds reminiscent of voices, of wind flowing through tunnels, of the slow static hiss of a tide briefly washing ashore and retracting back into the horizon but still although relatable it remains so disconnected from any of these things, left only for the imagination to interpret, to wonder what thing makes such bodies of noise. Dense low-end drones ride throughout many of the tracks while cascading spacial swells soar above them, the likes of which seamlessly weave in and out of one another, at times merging and separating, becoming one and becoming nothing. At times I think I am hearing strings, church bells, a symphony of instruments, or a choir of women singing but in reality all of this is being created by one David Ferris and still, I find it so easy to get lost in the aural beauty of this short lived project.

The dynamics on this release are certainly impressive and it’s hard to believe that this project is the work of one musician, even so I feel like the addition of more contributors could have added greatly to expand the variety of what this album is, which sometimes feels as though the tracks are bleeding into one another. Regardless, there isn’t a lot for me to say in terms of the negative aspects of this album.

From the beginning of the album with the delicate piano and melancholic rise and fall of ‘You Are Trembling’ to the album’s final lush conclusion on “When We Call” all of the sounds in between resonate a wavering beauty that is not of anything wholly pertaining to this world or any known thing. What is found are glacially paced, glistening free form bodies of sound. Circular Ruins is overtly natural in sound; the field recordings that are placed throughout the album bring a nice touch of life to the spacey fog of ambience that envelops you.

Overall Rating: 8.2

Favorite Tracks: ‘You Are Trembling’, ‘Found In The Ravine (Zain)’, ‘Hayley’

Recommended: Listening to a muffled choir of angels singing underwater within the vacuum of space.

Released: 20 August 2012

Links: Visit Congregations on Bandcamp

-Tyler Thompson

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