Album Review: Domestic Aerospace by Ensueno

Album cover: Domestic Aerospace by EnsuenoRussian atmospheric maestro Rudy Ensueno released Domestic Aerospace in mid-December 2010. Its ten pieces, ranging from under four to over twelve minutes, are very distinct from each other, their titles ranging from wistful to borderline-absurd. Each track conjures up its own world with a strong sense of place, a definite strength of Ensueno’s, as was clearly evident in his long-form Burundanga (see my review here). These voyages are often inexplicably comforting, despite the sense of strangeness lurking just over the horizon.

Domestic Aerospaces begins and ends with one-chord drone pieces. Orbits beautifully draws us in with a serene, skyward-looking chord held throughout its too-short five minutes. You know at once: this is going to be a hugely enjoyable high-altitude adventure. Wireless closes out the album with one big, fat, floating, thick-textured chord.

Orbits by Ensueno

Several pieces highlight Rudy’s love of playing piano. Haunts features piano, electric piano and bass in a vast space. I hear a vast, scarcely-lit empty warehouse in a rainy twilight – but not quite empty… high tones hang in the space like moonlight.

Rudy has a knack for titles and Natalie in Starlight is one of my favorites. Electric piano again, with a nice drone chord, and an overpowering, super-reverbed synth chord that might have fared better if toned down somewhat. Even if Natalie’s loud at times, she’s still pretty and likeable. The melodic piano of A Few Steps Away is wistful and quietly romantic.

A Few Steps Away by Ensueno

I’m probably biased towards longer pieces anyway, but the album’s two longest pieces (the only ones running over ten minutes) strongly earn my favoritism here. Rudy sets the stage so well that we’re not interested in leaving it. The longer his atmospheres churn and spiral around us, the better.

Watch is subdued, in the presence of… something. (Yes, yes – the reference is deliberate!*) A churning patch animates a quiet, droning pad. A choral synth offers a wordless commentary, with hushed reverence. There’s nowhere to go, because this presence is everywhere.

Ask the Weather Balloon takes us back up into the stratosphere. Flying synth chords of mystic substance, with a slight metallic ring and just the right touch of dissonance around the edges to keep us alert.

photo of Rudy EnsuenoTrance-Lace is another gem: a deep, swirling and dark (but not forbidding) atmosphere, inviting and compelling. A thudding two-bar rhythm kicks in like the echoing heartbeat of some huge, unknown space creature. Tendrils of dark matter writhe nearby, almost close enough to touch. A rapid blip-sequence swirls nearby before moving away. I could happily pass a deep-space day with this piece on repeat.

Domestic Aerospaces, another excellent collection from prolific composer Rudy Ensueno, is available for free download here. Rudy frequently posts new pieces in his Relaxed Machinery community blog, and we look forward to hearing further albums from him.

[* Note: In the Presence of Something is the opening track from the sublime Well of Souls album by Steve Roach and vidnaObmana.]

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