Perhaps ‘loneliness‘ and ‘deep‘ are the two key words best extrapolated from the title of this one-man project. For a number of records, electronic composer Ryan S Chamberlain has sought to convey feeling through ambience, and with no lack of substance. This latest release, The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver, is no exception; its sounds portray a realm of uncertainty, tailored specifically to run your soul adrift. Be warned, however, that this is not a dreamy ascent, but a steady plummet into an abyss of confusion and fear.
Once you hit play, there is little time for the senses to prepare. The enveloping torrents of stormy effects are quickly transported upon an assuredly relentless percussive thud, whilst ghostly cries of ambient melody provide a disconcerting measure of vulnerability. Perhaps your only context within this disquieting voyage is indeed the title – perhaps you are indeed a deep sea diver hopelessly lost in the oceanic depths. It’s a hell of a feat to have a soundtrack perfectly captivating of this feeling.
Whilst the opening track “Inertia” deals largely in pulse, the follow-up interlude of “Dark Tropics” appears to revel in build-up. Recurring samples, reminiscent of clicking apparatus and arranged to be percussive in themselves, operate alongside a sinister choir of double bass, all tinted with extra pops and buzzes of unease to keep our heads into the depths of whatever journey we took. Its bleed into the abstract thumps and low chimes of “Diving Bell” keeps the mind wavering, yet anticipating of whatever resolve may follow.
As it turns out, one might find the final display a shift towards the positive, a racy rhythmic thrill ride to the surface that hits a few air bubbles of intensity along the way. So goes the impression that this is not a formless narrative, but an A-to-B journey that has the marked depth to let you fill in the gaps with your own imagination. The scope has changed by the end. Maybe you made it to the surface…or maybe…
Throughout the breadth of The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver, we realise that it’s the collected balance of the chaotic, the warped, and the sombre that truly shows the patient sensibility of this musician. If any of these elements were to take too much precedence over one another, then the entire spectacle would topple overboard, but instead, the sounds coalesce and make one perfect, imperfect whole. This record avoids being a grandiose spectacle of different effects in favour of focusing on one concept, with one set of distinguishing features, to weave one small disconcerting tale in an unknown pocket of our dark scary world.
In being able to gather, only in part, how any of this was achieved, I can categorically confirm that The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver does exactly what it sets out to do. You have the name of the record, you have music to which it gives context, and therefore you have the unbridled sense of anxiety that comes with its delivery. In one pressurised, sensually-depraved, and dizzying experience, Arrowounds pulls you down to the ocean bed and holds you there until any nurturing thoughts of solidity and hope are vanquished. This is no standard ambient electronic project; this is a hefty dose of the unknown, marginally familiar in concept but completely alien in sense. The resulting balance it achieves is therefore truly staggering, and should not to be overlooked.