Mind over MIDI – Geophony

Before we even begin to discuss this release, we must get the obvious out of the way: Mind over MIDI is, without discussion, the worst band name this reviewer has ever come across. Mind you, it is clever, and would have fit handsomely for a flashy little chiptune project, but it is so unsuitable to what this very established Norwegian ambient/dark ambient artist is conveying through his music it’s not even funny. Or perhaps it is, but it is seriously plausible that the moniker has actually limited the project’s ability to reach the type and size of audience it deserves.

Having established that, we can move our attention to the issue of this particular C30 cassette, also available as a download for 4 Euro from The Level of Vulnerability. Helge Tømmervåg of Mind over MIDI works with field recordings, subtle synthesizers and succinct, pithy titles to transform his natural surroundings of Northern Norway into music. In a brief bio he explains:

If you can picture the very furthest, coldest, darkest part of Norway, that’s where Mind over MIDI resides. If you want to get an idea of what it’s like there, and can do without the frostbite, then this is the perfect solution.”

As far as the internal images produced in this listener by Geophony goes, that is a pretty accurate description. From the first track, “Conditions”, to the last one, “Spatial”, we get water, wind and undefinably organic noise of a very low-key type. All is accompanied by dark ambient synthesizers. The latter rarely take over. This is field recording heavy work, where sounds recorded around the area of Kristiansund dominate the picture almost entirely. Ironically, this means that Geophony is not music that this reviewer would recommend for walks in nature. Rather, this is something to enjoy when you are at least somewhat separated from the Great Outdoors. The fjells, fjords and forests of Northern Norway have been abstracted from their natural habitat, and turned into ambient. Good ambient.

It would be wrong to speak of perfection here, even if the band concept is very slick, what with the beautiful photography and all. A few tracks, such as “Expose”, are weaker and has some unsatisfactory noises. Most are very good, though, and several are great. It is also somewhat refreshing that an ambient artist has the courage to do short tracks, and the competence to make that work.

Geophony is a very nice piece of music. So nice that the mind tries to excuse the band name – perhaps it is some sort of reference to the supremacy of spirit, nature and authenticity over computerized vanity? Even if that would not be the case, this is well worth your time and money.

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