Abul Mogard makes an ever welcome return with a suite of starkly brooding shoegaze drone pieces mostly generated from an old Bechstein upright piano built in 1891. If yr into Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd's 'The Moon and the Melodies', Deathprod, Ryuichi Sakamoto or Jim O’Rourke, this one’s for you.
Inspired as much by the instrument’s rich harmonic textures as the Italo Calvino short story that lends the album’s track titles, ‘In Immobile Air’ collects five works written by Mogard during the ill-fated Spring of 2020. Thematically, the album dwells on Mogard’s typical concerns with memory and states of mind, and comes to feel like the musical rendering of a soul preoccupied by their mortality. As such, it can be read as a suite of instrumental hymns for a world coming to terms with its current condition and state of static unrest, evoking a stillness of air in its glacial movements while reflecting a gnawing sense of something impending. Yet, it’s simultaneously and quite profoundly soothing in its widescreen harmonic shifts along the knife-edge between bliss and dread.
The album arrives after a pause in Mogard’s prized oeuvre since 2019’s ‘And We Are Passing Through Silently’ with a humbly arresting presence that perfuses all of his best work and keeps his listeners rapt for more. The handful of pieces speak to both Mogard’s rich inner life, and the inner voice of his instrument. Using analog and digital equipment, he transforms the melancholic simplicity of his melodies into a quietly dreamlike space. The title track lays out this bare aesthetic with wilting, elegiac notes that vaporise into a timbral thizz, before its brooding course takes in the oblique beauty of ‘Clouds’ and tarry drones recalling recent Deathprod moves in ‘Black Dust.’ He finally emerges from the murk most poignantly with the clearer keys of ‘Sand’, only to shore up somewhere more contemplative and abstract, in the low key magisterial expanse of ‘On a Shattered Shell Beach.’