NOTES ON :
FLOATING BEAUTY .
BY BRETT STEWART .
On May 1, floating Beauty will be releasing the album, ‘Kovilj,’ a six song journey of magnificently epic proportions into the dark of experimental music creation. floating Beauty is the moniker of Lobo Panic, an incredibly talented and versatile producer. ‘Kovilj’ is his mad creation... an album described as a ‘floating beauty’ due to its nature of ‘hissing, moaning, pounding, and distorting like hell.’ Ghostly apparitions vanish and appear throughout his vintage tape machine, analogue console, and reel to reel recording style. It’s one of the most compelling suites of compositions I’ve heard in quite a long time.
When sitting down to review ‘Kovilj,’ I listened to the record a first time. Then a second... and then a third. I felt so compelled to do so because the music is so intriguing to me. It’s an instrumental concept album of sorts, akin to an experimental art piece. In fact, I’d align it very heavily with Laurie Anderson’s creations. Whether or not she influenced floating Beauty is unclear to me, but the correlation is strong. ‘Kovilj’ is similar in nature to Anderson’s most recent ‘Landfall’ composition, which is also a long, experimental art piece in several movements.
Moving on, the best way to tackle it may be to break it down track by track. The introduction to the album is ‘Liturgija,’ a seven minute long composition that’s quite peculiar. A mystical soundscape dances between the dark and the light, drawing to mind a man on horseback riding through a silent forest. Droning synthesizers and heart-like pounding keep the listener on the edge of their seat. The song erupts halfway through like a jolt of lightning through your speakers. All of the sudden, a cacophony of insanely dramatic proportions tears the world around you as the music descends into chaos. Suddenly, the eruption ceases. The wind howls and the slow return of the dramatic synthesizers bleeds into your mind.
As the movement continues with the title track, you begin to ease into the experience of ‘Kovilj.’ It isn’t an accessible selection of music: it’s raw and unpredictable, requiring something more than a passive role from its listener. The title track slowly builds into haunting echoes of ghost long past, each sound so perfectly and warmly enhanced by the vintage analogue equipment used in its production.
‘Tamjan’ is probably the slowest piece of the six, not quite finding its groove until about four minutes in. It’s a beautiful track, actually, akin to something off the cutting room floor of a Thom Yorke session. It feels somewhat aimless, though, because unlike the two songs before it, it doesn’t seem to resolve itself along the way. It remains lost in this aural limbo of tranquil atmospheric beats and plodding synthesizers.
‘Kac’ is quite simply eleven minutes of moody, sparse instrumentation and noises of the forest, similar to the opening track. At first glance, I thought I would hate ‘Kac’ due to its daring length. Like ‘Tamjan,’ it doesn’t seem to have any specific beginning or end. That’s sort of what I like about it. It just... is. It’s peaceful and introspective, even existential.
As much as I love these compositions, I’m not sure where I stand with ‘Miran Svet.’ It sounds like a culmination of the four tracks before it. Nothing in it is new or unexpected, it feels like a rehash of previous content. I’d argue that ‘Kovilj’ would be much better off without ‘Miran Svet,’ especially since ‘Molitva’ is such a solid conclusion.
There is indeed something conclusive about ‘Molitva.’ It’s even more simplistic than the rest of the compositions, but somewhere within its brevity its brilliant as well. It’s the perfect close to a masterful experiment. That does bring me around to my final point, though. How does this album fare as a complete entity?
Earlier in this review, I compared this endeavor to a Laurie Anderson composition. I think that comparison is probably the most apt I could conjure, because much like ‘Kovilj,’ an Anderson experiment is ambiguous in the artistic space it occupies. Her music doesn’t always have a definitive end or beginning and it’s somewhat unclear as to whether or not it was designed to have a point. What is clear, however, is that the music elevates itself into an atmosphere of its own. This record does that.
After having spent nearly three hours of my life listening to this content, I can conclude that I’m still somewhat perplexed by the sound. Each time I listen, I gather something new from the experience. That is what makes this collection of instrumentals so compelling to me: I don’t know why I like it, but I do, and I want to keep listening to it to find out why. I may never find out why, and that just concretes my interest in it. It’s an experiment in every sense of the word, and I love that.
‘Kovilj’ is not for the faint of heart. It’s intelligently designed and requires some discipline to really listen to. Don’t be put off by the long track lengths and spaces of seemingly empty voids. There is substance here, and once you open your mind to it, your experience will be an entirely different journey than mine. That’s how you know floating Beauty succeeded.