Closer is the ambient/noise project of Melbourne musician Liam Daly. It shares the grandiose aims of his former post-rock outfit, These Hands (Could Separate the Sky), but in place of cascading guitars are shifting drones built from sub-bass, white noise and tape hiss.
Over the past couple of years Daly has released two EPs, White Heat and Descent, and a full-length called In Search of Life. His latest is the neatly symmetrical Heartache/Lifted, whose two tracks both clock in at precisely 10:10.
The album has the neo-classical tenor of Basinski’s conceptual drones and some of the muted drama of Tim Hecker compositions. It’s not as centred and melodically rich as either of those artists, but that’s probably because Daly’s process is driven largely by chance. As he recently told Forte, Closer’s aesthetic is “not overly driven by specific mood or intent. Whatever noises present themselves are the ones I have to use. Whatever form the song takes, then so be it”. As a result, these tracks don’t build so much as they unfold, revealing new details and layers, each with different evocations.
In the same interview, Daly described Closer as “music that warps time and makes you feel without choice”. At times it conveys the inevitability of a glacier slowly collapsing, or that rushing noise that fills your ears during a panic attack or dissociative state.
‘Heartache’ is like the soundtrack to some unspecified dystopian era, whether industrial, medieval or post-apocalyptic. The highlight is ‘Lifted’, with its breathy synth washes and submerged vocals, which sound like someone calling to you from inside a deep cavern.
Though these songs would probably benefit from stronger melodic motifs, Heartache/Lifted is surprisingly gratifying for something that veers so close to sound art. Like most ambient music, this makes for great headphones listening – and probably a killer live show, too.