Published Aug 09, 2019It's rare to find an album that reflects its concept as well as the latest from Vancouver's Segue (born Jordan Sauer). A tribute to our natural prehistory, The Island explores the idea of what British Columbia might have looked like when the first Indigenous people landed on its shores four thousand years ago. It's a world of majestic rainforests and receding glaciers that Sauer captures especially well on this comforting collection of laid-back dub and ambient techno.
Sauer employs the expected aural shorthand for nature imagery (crashing waves, rustling wind), but he has a real knack for other, more creatively evocative ideas too. The smooth gait of "Shore Breeze" sounds like someone's feet treading through a pebbly beach, and as the ambient pads build, it's hard not to imagine the journey of this prehistoric wanderer and the sights they might be taking in. "Desolation Sound" is another highlight, its roiling, murky synths calling to mind looming mountains glimpsed suddenly through swirling mists.
Like the rest of the album, these tracks consist of a shuffling beat and various layers of ambient pads and atmospherics, all shrouded in an analogue haze that suits the material especially well. It may seem like there's not a lot going on at any given time, but once you settle into the ebb and flow of its unhurried vibe, The Island becomes a very pleasant place to be.
This sense of place is one of the album's major strengths. The specific mental imagery conjured up these tracks will surely vary from person to person, but by the time final cut "Deep Current" finishes, with its lapping waves and early morning feels, you'd be hard pressed not to have nature in mind.
At times, its hazy atmospheres even sound like the kind of ambient stuff that those of a certain age may remember from the government's "A Part of Our Heritage" commercials — ads that made such an impression on a couple of Scottish kids in the '80s that they went on to name their seminal IDM project after them. The Island has a similarly warm and nostalgic feel to it; a well-conceived piece of Canadiana from Sauer. (Silent Season)