Immersion formed in the wake of the second hiatus of essential, seminal post-punk outfit Wire in 1992. They are comprised of lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Colin Newman, and spouse Malka Spigel (predominantly a bassist) of historically relevant, culturally significant Israeli post-punk indie rock Minimal Compact. Between 1994 and 1999, their three album-length releases were received with critical acclaim, fans lauding their ambient, artistic soundscapes in electronica.
As Wire resumed functionality once more in 1999, it seemed that Immersion then fell by the wayside. This remained to look as such until news of EP ‘Analogue Creatures’, released this February. ‘Analogue Creatures Living on an Island’ is, unsurprisingly, an extension of this, combining the aforementioned with ‘Living on an Island’ to create a cohesive fourth whole album.
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An indie review of ‘Analogue Creatures’ once described Immersion as now being nothing more than a vanity project, before awarding it 6/10. Granted, the tracks now sit better in the longer, more diverse setting of a 38-minute long, nine track long album. However, music itself has arguably always been “vain” in this manner whenever it has been written not just for the sole purpose of a listening audience. Writing notes on a stave is effectively the same in this context as writing lyrics to be later sung, self-importantly in screaming-into-microphones-for-attention-because-we’re-just-so-bored fashion. Listening to this album genuinely makes it seem far from vain, with purposeful detachment from rock structure and form bequeathing a listening experience more akin to that of appreciating something ethereal, natural and shimmering in radiance unmade by humanity.
This style of Tangerine Dream-esque ambient electronic sound art undeniably brought ideas to the table in its heyday that other artists will have explored since. Even were this not the case, returning to a project so long down the line is a multifaceted matter. The passive of time simply changes contextuality; were this album released in the early 2000s, it would have been considered far more estimable, relevant, influential and necessary than now. Still, ‘Analogue Creatures Living on an Island’ holds its own important place as a respectable not-quite-ambient, instrumental electronic album.
It should be noted that the duo have made a bold approach in freshening their sound with new experimentations as opposed to just rehashing and/or beating the dead horse of now-stale ideas. Early Immersion never featured guitar, with 1994’s ‘Oscillating’ being “all synth”, and despite Spigel being more of a bassist, it is actually she who plays Newman’s twelve-string electric guitar through an organ pedal on ‘Slow Light’. The two have previously stated that their roles in Immersion have always been abstract and changeable.
‘Analogue Creatures Living on an Island’ is a satisfying collection of pieces that offer, arguably, just the right amount of variation. It is different, having its own character, without seeming too alien at first listen. Keeping one foot somewhere in the realms of ambient music reminiscent to that of Brian Eno’s during and post- ‘Another Green World’, some of the tracks (as is a frequent complaint for ‘The Big Ship’) might be a little too short to fully get into or explore.
Lastly, vinyl releases of this album are only available as two 10” EPs, split into ‘Analogue Creatures’ tracks in their original order, and followed by ‘Fireflys’, ‘Nanocluster’, ‘Spinner’ and ‘Living on an Island’ as ‘Living[…]’. In contrast to this, digital and CD releases combine the two, completely disorienting said order.
‘Analogue Creatures Living on an Island’ is out now via Swim