Time, place, mood and external stimuli all play a role.
The music on Bérangère Maximin’s Dangerous Orbits is not so much meant to be consumed as a series of long, extended musical meditations. Rather as part of a larger analysis of the individualized response to repetition, drones and immersive listening. Sometimes you almost forget, the music becoming so ethereal and all-consuming it’s as though it exists as part of the waking world around us rather than a collection of organized sounds, patterns and frequencies assembled in a particular manner and experienced by our mind alone.
Sometimes it becomes so present as to almost become palpable, the manifestation of some outside force gradually seeping out and enveloping the whole of your being. You can start to feel it on your skin, coursing in, through and around your body. It feels as though some primal sub-frequency floating through the ether has been tapped into, offering an alternate reality; not quite surreal but not quite familiar either. Sound as a living, breathing being existence beyond the sum of its collective parts.
How does one then objectively analyze a piece of art that may be experienced in a wholly different manner by each listener, the experience itself so individualistic as to exist more as a memory than a tangible recording that can be coherently shared with others? How, too, does one begin to break down the sounds being consumed when each listen affords a different perspective, offering an alternating experience each time, memories replicating themselves with subtle differences each time until, by the end, we’ve no recollection of what was versus what may have been perceived to have been.
Time, place, mood and external stimuli all play a role in how these five extended meditations on the evolution of sound become consumed. The insects of “A Day Closer” might at first sound like death and decay, the flies attracted to the rotting flesh of some poor soul who could no longer cut it. But then, encountered again, they may function as that of an annoyance, sputtering and buzzing through the crackling electronics and self-replicating reverberations.
Here the level of tension and unease rises to an alarming level, enhanced by the unnerving atmospheric crescendos and loss of a clear reference point from which to approach the music as breathing becomes more labored and frantic and wordless voices flit in and out. Yet it may then come across as an imagined sound that never existed in the first place and, instead of having been flies or bees or whatever your brain wanted them to be, they were little more than a cleverly manipulated series of vibration variances designed to disorient the listener. Regardless, in the wrong circumstances for the wrong listener it can become quite emotionally damaging.
As with most ambient and experimental recordings, Maximin’s Dangerous Orbits asks much of its listeners. “OOP (Our Own Planet)” in particular at 22 minutes is nearly double the length of the other four tracks. It’s simply not just something you put on and allow to play without a second thought. Rather it requires a sort of passive participation as the sounds reverberate within the listener. Ultimately, what you take away from Dangerous Orbits will be predicated on just how much you’re willing to put in. It’s certainly not for everyone, but those who find themselves enamored with its charms will nonetheless enjoy the ride.