Camped out on mattresses next to the fire over the long weekend, my friends and I took turns sharing songs, listening to the new Boards of Canada album and tracing patterns of our childhoods via rhythm. We delved into every facet of our shared musical identities, and laid out the identities of ourselves that we did not necessarily share. Next to the red and blue warmth, under wood panelling and late 1960s décor, we lounged on communal pillows and blankets, toes lightly brushing toes or hands.
I put Minilogue‘s “Atoms with curiosity that looks at itself and wonder why it wonders” from their latest album Blomma on for my turn, an album that was shared to me a few weeks earlier by a friend in that very room. I chuckled inwardly that my choice of song was actually a whole eighteen-minutes of bliss. We mused over the Swedish duo’s somewhat unusual name, and after some Googling, discovered that the name is actually the marriage of the words ‘minimal’ and ‘dialogue’.
Minilogue; minimal chatter, a turn of phrase that relies only on what is necessary, a short conversation or the story told through minimal music, the conversation between listener and producer that relies on seemingly nothing.
I hear Blomma as the dialogue between sound and subconsciousness. Every slight nuance within the tracks are gentle mappings of the human brain. There is a barrage of new information being facilitated through our ears whilst listening, even if we do not know it, like there is every day just seeing, thinking, smelling, feeling. Like the subconscious also, thoughts, sometimes non-distinct and sometimes vivid that float beneath our consciousness, mould together to produce a seamless facility of information. Through Minilogue’s perfection of the minimal techno genre, Blomma becomes the same river of seamless thoughts.
You can listen to the cleverly crafted sounds of Blomma whilst in a rush, as background music, distracted even, and think they hardly change. It is not an album, or indeed a genre, to be absorbed quickly and absentmindedly. It requires patience and a steady concentration in order to feel the bigger picture. That is the essence of minimal. But when you are listening, really listening, you can here the soft change in pitch, the whistle of a fucking pan flute and the greatest build up of all time where you think it’s just going to fade out but it doesn’t—it lingers, hovers, caught in the void between here or there, and then it releases.
To make an eighteen-minute track like “Atoms with curiosity…” you have to have patience. Not only patience, but also vision to see where you are going while remaining tied to the beginning and thus having fluency. I think it is a beautiful reflection of the subtle changes of human living—you feel like nothing is changing, perhaps stagnant even, without any great defining swings. But there are fluctuations there—beautiful fluctuations, where you and the music change from up to down, left to right and flourish in the growth that comes. Thing are changing even when you can’t hear them or when you forget to listen.
Perhaps the most challenging track on the album is “E de nan hemma.” The 45-minute, epic, ambient soundscape is void initially of the distinct four-to-the-floor rhythm inherent in the rest of Blomma. Instead, it is a room-filling, synthy orchestral piece, slow and lethargic, scattered throughout with wind chimes. We hear soaring, cheeping birds and panning synth sounds that pan softly throughout, as if slowly orbiting around the earth. Then at about the 22-minute mark, things evolve slightly, touching back down to earth, and continue to evolve. At the end of this track, you will wonder where on Earth you started from. If Blomma is a reflection of the subconsciousness and its myriad of thoughts, “E de nan hemma” is the subconsciousness at peace—still, in a meditative silence, without worldly worry or concern.
Clocking in just under two and a half hours, I’m not sure if in the past few weeks of listening I have even reached the final song or two of this record in one sitting. Infatuated by the first and second tracks, I find myself almost getting stuck on a loop sometimes, going back to the beginning, listening to them right through again and again. Like a loop of events, we feel déjà vu and notice varying subtleties. Even if it is the same pattern of sounds or the same arrangement, we interact differently with the tracks each time. The loops of Blomma resonate in different patterns for me. It is cyclic, interlacing and visionary—in couplets of songs, within each song, as well as from the beginning, right (when you make it) until the very end.