Virga I by EluviumRelease date: December 6, 2019
Label: Temporary Residence, Limited
A shaft of rain in the distance, falling from a dark cloud through midair but never hitting the ground: that is a Virga, a fitting moniker for this soft rain shower of an album, Eluvium’s latest ambient effort on the Temporary Residence, Ltd label. In three parts (‘Virga I’, ‘Abyss Forms’, and ‘House Taken Over’), Virga I traces a storm from its incomplete appearance in the distance, a daunting approach, and the final downpour.
The first track, ‘Virga I’, is alive with sunlight and mist, the sparkle of droplets of water in sunbeams, the way light diffuses through fog. It’s a piece of deep breaths and hopeful resonances. ‘Abyss Forms’ has a denser, darker feel and employs occasional discord and detuned sounds that induce the merest hint of tension — but never so much as to lift the listener out of their ambient trance, or to call attention to itself. In ‘House Taken Over,’ metallic sounds evoke rain on a tin roof or the crash of distant thunder, but a pathway of slow, melodic tones moves confidently through the mesh of rain. It may be raining outside, but we are safe and warm within.
These pieces were created while Matthew Cooper, the artist behind the Eluvium project, was living in a small studio and sheltering from a snowstorm. The coziness and intimacy of that venue seem at first at odds with the sound of Virga I, which has a way of making walls seem transparent and arm’s reach feel miles wide. But, perhaps, this is the music that one makes when one is so comfortably and yet undeniably trapped.
The word “ambient” has been overloaded — often employed for slow-paced or low-volume music that is not technically ambient at all — but this album reinstates its meaning. This is music that merges with the background while adding a new texture to the air. Intended as the first in a series of generative music employing long loops, Virga I is a fitting beginning and a welcome companion on long winter nights.
Available in a limited edition on clear vinyl, as well as via download.