Ash 11.4 – Simon Scott – Insomni

Buy Simon Scott “Insomni” in the TouchShop
1 track – 42:00
CD + Digital Download

Track listing & timings (plays as one track):
0.00 An Angel From The Sea Kissed Me
6.59 Holme Posts
9.00 Confusion In Her Eyes
15.12 Relapse
16.42 Oaks Grow Strong
21.47 Ternal
22.36 Nettle Bed
25.40 Fen Drove
28.06 Nember
31.46 Far From The Tree
37.30 Swanbark

Couldn’t sleep… arose to forage for sound. The hum of the fridge encouraged further investigation of hidden, domestic sounds; the fish tank, dvd player, a broken laptop…
Dawn and morning light allowed more sound and the guitar, in its case, beckoned…
From darkness to light…

Guitars: Guild 12 string D-125 & Vintage Guild 6 string GF-25
Mics: Induction coil pick up & Hydrophones
Buddha Machine pre-recorded and mixed, then re-recorded at Holme Fen Posts using mobile speakers
Recording device: Edirol r-09
Radio: static between stations
Software: Max MSP (self-programmed), Supercollider & Logic Pro

Simon Scott (b. 1971) is a British multi-instrumentalist who is currently based in Cambridge, UK. Insomni is his fourth album and his debut for Ash International and is published by Touch. His music is a fusion of digital signal manipulation combined with an aesthetic of compositional collaboration with environmental sounds and organic acoustic textures. He is inspired by his interests in sound ecology, music technology, the natural world, illustration, photography, composition and sonic art.

Below Sea Level, originally presented live in quadraphonic sound, was released on TOUCHLINE in March 2015, after 12k originally released the album in 2012 as an 80-page journal and seven track CD. It explores the aesthetics of active listening, sound ecology and the subjective distinction of compositional materials and sound timbres. Critically applauded for creating juxtapositions of analogue and digital timbres, the man-made and natural world sounds, captured in his local sunken landscape of The Fens in East Anglia, create a fusion of digital signal manipulation combined with organic acoustic textures.
Since the late 1990’s Scott’s solo work has been featured in a variety of international films, sonic art exhibitions, dance productions, television productions and digital multi-media projects.

He has toured worldwide since 1988 and he is the drummer for UK band Slowdive, who worked with Brian Eno on 1993 ‘Souvlaki ‘ album. His track “Für Betty” was included on the German label Kompakt’s ‘Pop Ambient’ (2014) compilation series and his solo music has also been previously released on recording labels 12k, Morr Music, Miasmah, Sonic Pieces and Ghostly International. Scott is also a freelance composer and sound recordist for film and television and recently appeared on the BBC program ‘Springwatch Unsprung’ recording aquatic wildlife and discussing his work with presenter Chris Packham. He has taught Music Technology and sound recording in Cambridgeshire and lectured at Cambridge University.

In 2008 he established the KESH recording label, releasing global artists audio and visual projects and he has also collaborated on various projects with Taylor Deupree, Nils Frahm, Machinefabriek, The Sight Below, Isan and James Blackshaw.

You can read an interview with him in FACT Magazine here


Caught by the River (UK):
One of the absolute beauties of 2015 is James Blackshaw’s Summoning Sons LP. There was a time back in the spring/early summer when I couldn’t get through a day without a quick shot of its easy, jazzy vibe, its slightly shambling insouciance, all propelled along with some feathery drums and a not inconsiderable dose of wistfulness. Rummaging around online, checking half-remembered facts about Simon Scott, his Slowdive days, and his more recent albums constructed from ‘found sounds’, I just had a fine serendipitous moment: the drummer for Summoning Sons is none other than the former Slowdive sticks-man himself. I caught the reformed Slowdive at the Forum in Kentish Town last Christmas: it was a fine assault on the senses, real tube-clearing stuff, and the crowd (full of the expected fortysomethings, but also plenty of youngsters) loved it. But . . . well, it’s not 1994 any more, and these days I spend a lot of time listening to records that are almost barely there: the muffled voices and birdsong of ‘Berwick Street at Dawn’ and the plaintive call of the Coryton Refinery Siren on Canvey Island from Ian Rawes’s superb London Sound Survey LP; Thomas Köner’s recordings of ghostly voices late at night in Barcelona, or the ice sheet cracking deep down in the Arctic; the pastoral melancholy of sepia-toned releases on the excellent Wist Rec label from Ireland – a lengthy soundtrack to Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside, or the elegiac ode to rising sea levels, The Changing Tide, by the Laborer; Philip Jeck’s vinyl requiems; sounds from the Caretaker’s dusty ballroom. Don’t get me wrong, there’ll always be a time and a place to stick on ‘Loose’ from Fun House – or even ‘Souvlaki Space Station’, or ‘Confetti’ from Summoning Sons – but I also wonder if rock and roll one day won’t seem just a bit, you know, forced, and as contrived and somewhat ludicrous as music hall.

I’m sure Simon Scott has travelled even further down this overgrown path. For those late to the party (like me) his last record, Below Sea Level, is a submerged wonder, put together from recordings made in the Fens between 2010 and 2012. His new album, Insomni – inspired by ‘a nocturnal foraging for sound’, the hum of the fridge and the fish tank – does have a track-listing of sorts, but is meant to be experienced as one 42-minute piece. Stick your head into the speaker as it gets going and it’s possible to pick up what sounds like the stuck glitching, the distressed CD clicks of an old Oval or Microstoria record; within three or four minutes the needle is in the red but the distortion (as with Slowdive) is never less than bliss(tering); by 7 minutes in, birds are chirping as a guitar is gently strummed, the delay delicately folded in with the wash of a stream and sounds possibly sourced from a river bank in the Fens. Midway through, ‘Ternal’ seems to herald a darker third movement – there’s what sounds like the hum of a light aircraft engine; sparks from a blow torch – but then a lovely guitar figure bursts through the foliage: the sun is up, morning is almost here, time for peaceful sleep at last. Where there’s a lot going on on what would be side one (if this were on vinyl) – the head-turning and sheet-twisting; some of the guitar pieces have the feel of the openings to Slowdive tracks, chopped up and scrambled through a bad night’s sleep – the second half of the record feels calmer, and cleaner in some ways: the samples, recordings, scuzz and fuzziness drop away slightly, as guitar lines bloom into focus. Late on there’s a lovely piece of fretwork (‘Far from the Tree’) that wouldn’t sound out of place on something like Glenn Jones’s My Garden State. But there’s still plenty of hum and crackle: ‘Nember’ is a beautifully repeated loop that glows against a murky backdrop like a dimmed light from William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops; elsewhere, chiming guitar notes overlay the pulse of what could be a skipping CD, or perhaps the beating of dragonflies’ wings. A lot of ambient dronescapes can feel a bit heavy-handed these days – monolithic slabs of drone; heavy portents of impending doom or endless melancholy – but Insomni is a fine album; assembled with a lightness of touch, it’s a lovely undulating record, a late-summer treat. [Ian Preece]

Darkfloor (UK):
Right on my door step is a vast flat area of land known as The Fens. They take in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and the bit of the county that I live in – Cambridgeshire. Another resident of Cambridgeshire is Simon Scott – drummer with Slowdive, label head at Kesh, and artist with Touch. It is with Touch that he has released his new album Insomni. An album I have become not so quietly obsessed with over the last few days. Recently, and for the first time in a long time, I drove through a small part of The Fens and later mentioned on Twitter that having heard a small part of the album it would have been the perfect piece of music to accompany me on my journey. A few days later I was back, this time with the perfect soundtrack – Insomni– a slow sprawling album that perfectly captures the landscape through the use of plaintive acoustic segments and overdriven guitar moments that reflected the long low heavy clouds I was driving into. It’s field recordings made me feel like I was driving with the windows open. I plan to go back again very soon, this time with my camera and microphone in a bag on the back seat, so I can capture some of this ancient landscape for myself. I understand that this is less of a review and more of a personal reflection. But, when an album is this close to home it makes you open your eyes once again and really look at what is right in front of you. Beautiful work from beginning to end. Lay flat. Switch your thought process to sepia and let this wash over you.

The Quietus (UK):
The work of Simon Scott also balances musical and non-musical matter, but with very different results to Liberez’ chaotic celebrations. Combining the disciplined, “active listening” approaches of field recording with the cloudy chords and resplendent, picked melodies of six and twelve-string guitars, Scott arrives at a crossroads – part documentary, part folk art.

Previously this was deftly displayed on Below Sea Level, originally released in 2012 on 12k, its hazy guitar drifting over a sound document of the aural ecology of the Fens Of East of England. But whereas Below Sea Level seemed to remain in a perpetual, sun-dappled morning filled with play and fascination for the natural environment, Insomni, as its title eludes, begins at night. Apparently suffering from sleeplessness, Scott would get up in the dark and start recording sounds instead of counting sheep. Here, he would pick up the often inaudible sound spillage of electronic devices to develop a small library of hidden, domestic noises that are threaded through this album. These light pops, sines, buzzes and hums are deployed subtly, however, across Insomni’s 42 minutes, often gently confused with birdsong and waterways, together forming a backdrop for Scott’s centre-staged guitar work. Its range soars from majestic clusters and arches of dense, distorted bursts, reminding of Fennesz’ processed guitar, through floating, ethereal suspensions, to nimble, sentimental pluckery. But perhaps what makes this most common of instruments the most remarkable aspect of Insomni is the way it has been recorded. As the album slowly unravels, the dreamy qualities fade and the more purposeful melodic flow strengthens, reflecting the obscurity of night turning into the clarity of day, where the richest recordings of 6 and 12 string passages await. Their striking iridescence is perhaps a consequence of Scott’s openness to all sounds where his attentive listening to natural environments has bestowed him with a remarkably keen ear with which to capture the many and varied qualities of his guitar. [Russell Cuzner]

Fluid Radio (UK):
“Insomni” sees Cambridgeshire man Simon Scott embrace a broader range of moods and timbres than on his previous album “Below Sea Level”, at times harking back to the heavier sounds of his early solo work for Miasmah. Although he cut his teeth as a drummer, the music released under his own name is mostly guitar- and synth-based, with the field recordings used to such great effect on “Below Sea Level” also making themselves heard on the new record. The title refers in part to the sources of many of these recordings, no longer limited to the natural world: unable to sleep, Scott’s ears tuned in to “the hum of the fridge… the fish tank, dvd player, a broken laptop…”

While “Below Sea Level” was a tribute to the wide open spaces and hidden aquatic and avian lives of Scott’s native Fens, “Insomni” traces a route through more mountainous terrain. While the late summer haze of the previous album is sometimes felt, this time round the music spans a season of torrential downpours and biting wind as well as moments of warmth and light. From the dense and rough to the light and buoyant, the wide range of timbres and intensities create a more dramatic scenery, with strong contrasts between epic grandeur and quiet intimacy. Tone and harmony are still important, but the music becomes increasingly melody-driven as the album progresses, with pace and rhythm, fleet-footed yet urgent, replacing the steady surge of the drone.
Indeed, “Insomni” is a record of two halves: the first drone-heavy, with harmony and texture the key developing principles; the second more melodic and foregrounding Scott’s skills as a guitarist. In this sense, the music cuts deep into time and sound to encompass a sedimentation of moments and influences that have led Scott to this point. Like a journey with many different waystations along the route, the album offers a range of different vistas and pleasures. Though no clear final destination is arrived at, a red line nonetheless draws itself through each of the album’s points, linking them together: a gaze from a train window as the worlds of the world roll by.

music won’t save you (Italy):
Come da titolo, “Insomni” muove da un’osservazione da parte di Simon Scott di un ambiente sonoro vissuto nelle ore notturne, catturato nelle sue frequenze immanenti e completato da significative parti suonate. Il tutto è presentato come un itinerario d’ascolto di oltre quaranta minuti in traccia unica, benché ripartita in una sequenza di frammenti più o meno lunghi.

Come nello splendido “Below Sea Level”, sono nuovamente i field recordings il punto di partenza intorno al quale l’artista inglese costruisce le proprie composizioni; tuttavia in “Insomni” si tratta appunto soltanto di un primo spunto, che ben presto si ritrae a semplice corollario di un’articolata galleria di armonie elettro-acustiche.

Fin dall’inizio, infatti, la sospesa atmosfera notturna è definita attraverso suoni ricavati da modulazioni d’organo e chitarra, che fungono da fondale dapprima a un’ambience austera e a tratti persino contorta e quindi a sorprendenti pennellate di paesaggismo acustico. “Insomni” è infatti idealmente divisibile in due parti pressoché speculari: la prima metà del lavoro presenta un contenuto più strettamente ambientale, incentrata su drone e correnti di elettricità statica e a tratti molto prossima al rumore mentre, proprio intorno al giro di boa della lunga traccia, delicati arpeggi introducono una seconda parte che, pur presentando ancora risonanze granulose, è invece dominata da armonie acustiche che suggeriscono incantate contemplazioni bucoliche.

L’approdo finale dell’insonnia creativa di Scott assomiglia dunque alla ritrovata serenità di un’inedita atmosfera aurorale, da cogliere nella sua preziosa fugacità, al termine di un lucidissimo viaggio dalle tenebre alla luce, attraverso sensazioni, suoni e dettagli esaltati nella percezione proprio dal contesto notturno.

Black Audio (UK):
Cambridge based Simon Scott returns with his beautifully packaged fourth album of atmospheric digital and organic sounds; that concentrate on the environment in which he resides. Opening with ‘An Angel from the Sea Kissed me’, there is an immediacy that grabs the listener, as a swell of distorted guitars weave their way through a wash of pads. My only gripe is that they overtake the proceedings, drowning out the subtleties at some key points; but nevertheless, push all my buttons in a Fennesz type fashion. Scott blends a multitude of field recordings into his work; but where others fail, he is successful in not relying on these as his sole source of production, leaving his pure skill of musicianship to speak for itself. Along the way we are treated to dramatic seas of Dark Ambient, resonating drone work and blissful passages of pads and soul-searching guitar. The generous mix as the album progresses, touches on many an emotion; many of which reflective.

Unsurprising to learn that Scott is a freelance composer and has done much work for sound and television; also that he was part of Slowdive who worked with Brian Eno on his 1993 ‘Souvlaki’ album. Either way, Simon deserves his own stage and I highly recommend you check him out. 9/10

Le Son du Grisli (France):
Pas aussi inconnu de moi jusque-là que ce que je pensais, Simon Scott a été le batteur de Slowdive au début des années 90. Il y a moins de temps que ça, il a sorti des disques sous son nom à lui (sur 12k ou Touch par exemple). D’ailleurs : finie la batterie, place à la guitare (folk, claire).

Une sorte de Slowdive instrumental introduit d’ailleurs Insomni, et cette etheral ambient pop avec ses guitares saturant saupoudrées (très légèrement) de voix et de violoncelle est très engageante (écouter ci-dessous). C’est comme un folk joué sous la pluie qui tombe sur des pylônes électriques, ça impressionne forcément. Mais une guitare folk apparaît et la pluie cesse. A à peine un tiers de l’album, Scott perd sa recette et ses accords sous arpèges virent pop folk instrumental dont le fastoche ennuierait plus d’un débutant à l’instrument. Voilà bien de quoi combattre l’insomnie !

Aquarius Records (USA):
With his first release under the auspices of the Touch label (via their Ash International subsidiary), after others on Miasmah and Immune, Simon Scott offers up yet another exquisite album, once again treading far beyond the shadow of Slowdive. Yes, Scott is the drummer from that beloved shoegazing / noise-pop ensemble; but there’s nary a rhythm to be found on Insomni, which graces us with radioluminscent guitar drones, data-crunched sheets of noise, abstracted field recordings, and a number of languid ellipsis on the acoustic guitar. All of this comes together for a damn near perfect album that is right at home alongside so many of the other greats on Touch and Ash International (like Fennesz, BJ Nilsen, Lawrence English, Phill Niblock, Oren Ambarchi, Chris Watson, etc.). The album operates somewhat like a diptych with the first half of the album re-coding dilated shoegazing drones into effervescent explosions of digitalia girded with sublimely somber harmonics and loping melodies. Many of the environmental sounds address the album’s title of insomnia, with Scott capturing those household drones and electrical hums that can dig into the brain as an unwelcome sonic earworm, late at night when one is trying to sleep but cannot. Scott amplifies and expands these sounds and coaxes something transcendent out of them amidst his soft-focused explosions of guitars and whatnot. The second half of the album is dominated by his beautiful acoustic guitar explorations that certainly pay homage to someone like Robbie Basho or Peter Walker, with these crystalline figures chiming into elegant fugues and languid passages equally melodic as they are hypnotic. Undoubtedly, Insomni is the best solo recording we’ve heard from Simon Scott yet!

Musik an sich (Germany):
Der 1969 geborene Brite Simon Scott ist eigentlich Schlagzeuger und war neben seinen Soloprojekten bereits in vielen Bands aktiv. Die bekanntesten davon dürften woh die Shoegazer Slowdive sein, welche sich just 2014 nach fast 20 Jahren reformiert haben. Auf seinem neuen Soloalbum Insomni (sein neuntes), übt er sich in avantgardistischer, dem Postrock naher aber auch seine Shoegazewurzeln nicht verleugnenden, atmosphärischen Instrumentalmusik. Hier setzt er 6- und 12-saitige Gitarren, Elektronik, Radio und spezielle Mikrophone und Mischgeräte ein um, seine soundtrackartige Musik zu kreieren.
Das Eingangsstück “An angel from the sea kissed me“ weist dann noch sehr deutlich auf seine Wurzeln, arbeitet es doch mit Wall-of-Sounds, erzeugt durch verfremdete Gitarren- und elektronische Klänge. Diese Elemente tauchen immer wieder in den sich langsam aufbauenden Stücken auf. Sanfte elektronische Keyboardsounds, Geräusche und elektronische Sounds kreieren häufig zunächst melancholische Landschaften, die dann plötzlich in diese Feedback-, ja Post-Dronesounds münden. Die Vermengung der verschiedenen Stile gelingt Simon Scott sehr gut. Und dies – das ist seine tatsächliche Leistung – ohne zur unhörbaren Avantgarde zu verkommen, denn alle Tracks werden von Melodien getragen, die sich mal mehr, mal weniger deutlich ausprägen. Die Vermengung der Fieldrecordings mit den Sounds und Klängen ist ebenso otimal abgestimmt und alle elf Stücke ergeben eine wunderbare, gut hörbare Einheit, was durch die Tatsache, dass auf der CD nicht die Einzellängen, sondern jeweils der Startzeitpunkt auf der CD vermerkt sind, unterstützt wird. Und wenn dann noch so eine wunderbare Ballade mit zwei akustischen Gitarren wie “Nettle bed“ das ganze auflockert, geht dem Hörer das Herz auf.
Insomni ist ein starkes, avantgardistisches, irgendwie fast neoklassisches und doch auch poppiges Album geworden. Ein Soundtrack für Kopfkino der besonderen Art. [Wolfgang Kabsch] 18/20

SWQW (France):
Simon Scott n’est pas un inconnu, loin de là. Mais même s’il est avant tout le batteur des vétérans du shoegaze Slowdive, c’est également un explorateur fervent des territoires électroacoustiques à composantes environnementales, créant à base de guitares électriques (ou pas) et de traitement digitaux des albums à découvrir au moins une fois, ne serait-ce que parce qu’il les a sorti sur des labels aussi positivables que Miasmah ou 12k (toi-même tu sais). Sans compter des collaborations avec d’autres magiciens électroniques comme Taylor Deupree, Illuha ou Rafael Anton Irisarri sous son pseudo The Sight Below ; beau pedigree quoi. Sa dernière création paraît sur Ash International, label cousin d’un certain Touch qui n’est pas moins positivable.

Abandonnez-vous maintenant à l’allégresse et laissez vos sens s’émoustiller à la lecture d’une nouvelle chronique ambient et drone que vous attendiez tant.

Conséquence d’une nuit blanche qui a ponctuellement changé Scott en noctambule à la recherche de sons ambiants, Insomni reflète cette versatilité inévitable qui nous gagne lorsque le sommeil ne veut pas de nous. Une évolution erratique de nos états physique et émotionnel, progressivement altérés par cette veille forcée sous la lumière sélénique. Car ne pas pouvoir dormir ne signifie évidemment pas être alerte, détournant alors l’environnement et les stimuli en un trip surréaliste qui brouille la frontière séparant le véridique de l’onirique. Un rêve éveillé qui utilise les sons perçus comme carburant et notre mémoire comme véhicule en roue libre dans une expérience en plus de quatre dimensions. Et c’est avec du coton dans les oreilles et de la brume dans les yeux qu’on suivra cette aventure nocturne vers l’aube possiblement salvatrice, mais sans idée précise de l’itinéraire que l’on va emprunter pour y arriver.

Réservant les pistes sans trame concrète d’une nuit sans fin à sa première moitié et les mélodies acoustiques fleurant bon l’amour et l’eau fraîche sous le soleil à la seconde, Insomni respecte la progression du récit dans le temps malgré son écoulement incertain. Après s’être fait démolir notre volonté de rejoindre les bras de Morphée par le souffle brûlant des guitares übersaturées sur An Angel From the Sea Kissed Me, on part de force en pilote automatique entre bruits environnants et recoins hippocampiques obscurs, ces deux sources d’inspiration sonores confluant en un flot tortueux au débit variable. Tantôt au bord de l’assoupissement, bercés en eaux calmes réminiscentes de Below Sea Level et à l’horizon hors de portée (Oaks Grow Strong, Fen Drove), tantôt malmenés et ramenés in extremis à l’éveil lors des phases de rapides plus abruptes (Confusion in Her Eyes, Relapse), corps et esprit vagabondent dans des paysages inconstants dessinés au fusain, cherchant vainement le point de fuite vers le sommeil dans des perspectives mouvantes. Et plus le jour se rapproche, plus les souvenirs liés à la guitare se font clairs eux aussi et prennent l’ascendant sur les éléments aux contours plus dilués, en témoigne le triptyque de clôture. Mais malgré de jolies fulgurances mélodiques, notamment sur Swanbark, on ne peut s’empêcher de trouver la partie purement acoustique hors de propos, et honnêtement assez chiante par rapport aux précédentes pistes. Car notre voyage au bout de la nuit prendra par définition fin à l’aurore, tandis que les derniers morceaux semblent le poursuivre au-delà, troquant l’ébriété asthénique pour la récupération héliophile.

Tout comme on passe du qui-vive au coup de barre sans crier gare, l’album se révélera parfois inégal dans ce qu’il offrira. Là où l’imprévisibilité des field recordings semi-opaques et autres drones granuleux illustre parfaitement le caractère incontrôlable de l’évènement qui inspira Insomni, la clarté des guitares acoustiques déborde du cadre de l’expérience (une symptomatique que l’on retrouve aussi entre les deux pistes bonus, qui n’apportent ou n’enlèvent d’ailleurs rien à l’album). Mais malgré ce bémol, la première demi-heure de la galette est déjà assez digne d’intérêt, prenant régulièrement l’auditeur à contre-pied dans une écoute à la dynamique affranchie de repos elle aussi. [dotflac]

Sound of Music (Sweden):
Simon Scott är nog mest känd som trummis i Slowdive – möjligen det band som har stått för den mest genomgripande förändringen av mitt eget sätt att se på musik. Det räckte med att höra ungefär tio sekunder av debutalbumet Just For A Day för att hjärncellerna skulle tvingas omgruppera sig och omvärdera alla fasta övertygelser. Trots tre gitarrer i sättningen fanns det inget som lät som gitarrer. De blev mitt favoritband och jag såg dem live fyra gånger i fjol under en extatisk återföreningsturné. Plötsligt blev alla gamla sönderspelade livebootlegs hyperaktuella igen. Slowdive hade ett unikt perspektiv på sammansättningen av ljud; genom en närmast socialistisk strävan mot en gemensam helhet tycktes de alltid uppnå total samspelthet – inte minst i en livesituation. Ljudväggen tilläts där svälla upp i katedralstorlek, låtarna kunde tänjas ut i längd och bli till moderna folkvisor i droneliknande form.

Insomni är Simon Scotts fjärde skiva under eget namn och hans bakgrund i Slowdive är relevant, trots att hans musik ter sig mer anspråkslöst pastoral. Egentligen är det intressant att han lämnade Slowdive inför Pygmalion, deras mest ambienta skiva (nu är han tillbaka i bandet igen). Scotts förra album Below Sea Level var ett stort konstnärligt kliv framåt och en ambitiös sammankoppling av analoga och digitala klanger. Insomni vidareutvecklar och renodlar det som inleddes där. Inledande ”An Angel From The Sea Kissed Me” är djupt gripande. Scott tillåter sig större gester än vanligt och lägger ut täta syntmattor i en crescendoliknande stegring och garnerar med behaglig noise innan allt faller samman och klingar ut i vilsamt fågelkvitter. ”Holme Posts” tar vid med en akustisk gitarr och kväkande grodor och jag tänker osökt på Brian Enos Ambient 4: On Land. Eno har naturligtvis varit en stor inspiration för Scott, men jag tror också att den senares bakgrund som indietrummis gynnar honom i sökandet efter särart. Skivans tydliga dramatiska kurva är imponerande, från öppningens mullrande rymdambient till avslutningens tre akustiska spår – Scott talar om ”sound ecology”, och kanske är resan mot det traditionellt jordnära en spegling av det här. Det finns ju gott om elektroakustiska kompositörer som jobbar med field recordings, men Scott har utvecklat en sensibilitet som blir alltmer egen för varje album. Insomni är hans hittills bästa. [Joakim Sandström]

popmatters (USA):
Simon Scott is the drummer for UK shoegazers Slowdive but his career as a solo artist finds him on a delightful diversion. After making two albums under the Miasmah label, the drummer-turned-multi-instrumentalist/ambient sound architect makes his Ash International debut with the not-inappropriately named Insomni. Naturally, Scott didn’t abandon all of the musical inclinations that he acquired from his day job, but an album like Insomni is able to encompass a great deal more depth without portraying its author as some snooty musical know-it-all. It manages to carry a very natural feel while, at the same time, sounding like little else in the public’s periphery.

From the “Description” in Insomni‘s press release, it sounds like Simon Scott assembled the instruments used for his album the way other people pick up pieces of junk on a long walk home. Aside from the conventional suspects like six- and 12-string guitars and a smattering of recording software, he gives credit to a fish tank, a DVD player, and a broken laptop. There is a Buddha machine at work, a hydrophone, a magnetic pick up on its own, and a very specific kind of microphone. It appears that Scott is following in the footsteps of Rafael Toral types who seem to stumble upon their “music” through a series of highly-calibrated accidents; place a thing next to the microphone, make it do something, feed it through some other thing, loop it, then use that as a backdrop for your next sound. If the artist repeats the steps enough times and adds just enough effects, the sources can be obfuscated and the resulting sound can be enjoyed as a seemingly organic piece of music.

Insomni is a nighttime, earbud experience—that’s the only way some of these tracks will actually register. If you own a VU meter, let me know if you got a reading at all on “Holme Pasts”, the nearly non-existent second track. Some moments stay the course with their soft drone while others mutate in subtle ways. “Oaks Grow Strong” is an example of this where a seemingly new age start gives way to plenty of troubling buzz and stray static. After the tortuously soft “Fen Drove”, “Nember” enters the picture with a tonal acoustic guitar figure (just note, there is a generous amount of reverb added). Even “Far From the Tree” proves that Scott is a pretty competent fingerstyle guitarist, though the finger scrapes do give off more squeak than is probably necessary. Such is a pitfall of wound bronze.
It’s one thing to make an album that is “different” from your band or your peers but it’s a whole other achievement entirely to make such a captivating one that cements such a strong new creative endeavor. This is the path that Simon Scott has been foraging for a while now. By following him and by keeping a few steps behind whatever muse he chases down this solitary trail, we may unveil hidden treasures that we can’t yet explain. [John Garratt]

Silence and Sound (France):
Batteur de la mythique formation Slowdive, collaborateur sur divers projets auprès de Taylor Deupree, Nils Frahm, Machinefbriek, Isan… Simon Scott élabore depuis 20 ans une musique expérimentale habitée de field recordings, de guitares claires virant au shoegaze, de sources sonores environnementales (des chants d’oiseaux en passant par les bruits de son frigo, lecteur dvd, auqarium et autres bruits enregistrés de préférence la nuit), pour un album, Insomni, constitué de plusieurs morceaux mais assemblés en un seul track, histoire de forcer les gens à se concentrer d’un bout à l’autre pour éviter de zapper. Insomni est une invitation au voyage, vision d’un monde aux climats politiques et naturels en constante mutation, traversés de soubresauts sombres et d’espoir lumineux, de moments d’accalmie et de retournements intenses. Simon Scott étale ses états d’âme avec grâce, touchant les cimes, durant la première partie de l’album, plus expérimentale, accrochée aux saturations et aux mouvements lo-fi, aux montées décharnées et brumeuses, se perdant un peu sur la fin, avec sa succession de mélodies aux aux cordes claires. Un opus suspendu à des oscillations fragiles, pris entre les balancements de l’existence et les crépitements secrets de nuits étoilées. Très fortement recommandé. [Paul Beauchamp]

Drowned in Sound (net):
Cambridge-based sound artist, and Slowdive drummer, Simon Scott has been fairly quiet as a solo artist over the last two or three years, but now is back with Insomni. This sumptuous forty-minute odyssey sees Scott blend organic and electronic sounds with a wonderfully purposeful clarity. Inspired by a lack of sleep, Insomni’s sound palate brilliantly fuses together dreamlike synth tones and the natural beauty of acoustic guitar. In doing so, Scott adeptly reflects the netherworld between moments of waking lucidity and slow drifts into unconsciousness.

Headphone Commute (UK):
There are people who know Simon Scott as member of the renown shoegazer band, Slowdive. I have, unfortunately, never got into their music during their reign (even now I can see Rafael Anton Irisarri glaring down at me for this comment). I have, however, come upon Simon Scott’s music back in 2009, where, for the first time since his playing drums for Slowdive, he has ventured out to release a solo album. Since then, Scott’s music appeared on many of my favorite labels, such as Miasmah, Low Point, Slaapwel, and even 12k. Scott also runs and releases on his very own imprint, Kesh Recordings. His latest full length, Insomni, lands courtesy of Ash International, a long running outlet for Mike Harding, who is already busy with curating releases for Touch.

Insomni opens up with a slowly rising guitar strum slash drone slash noise, perfect as a soundtrack for my early morning walk, as I step out towards a lethargic and barely visible sun. The volume ascents with the climbing star, and soon envelopes every cell of my body. Gentle ambient soundscapes are intermixed with growling distortion, and it is this cocktail of dynamically opposing sonic vibrations that awakens my neurons, and a smile creeps in. The thunder eventually dissolves into a field recording of chirping birds, and Scott’s guitar chords tell their story. Those awakened in the midst of night will recognize this texture of insomnia, mixed with fleeting thoughts within an empty chalice of a mind, and distant sounds of the universe unfolding on its own… all on its own…

“Couldn’t sleep… arose to forage for sound. The hum of the fridge encouraged further investigation of hidden, domestic sounds; the fish tank, dvd player, a broken laptop… Dawn and morning light allowed more sound and the guitar, in its case, beckoned… From darkness to light…” – Scott

Insomni pursues its tale through a set of repetitious passages, shimmering light and lo-fi fabric. These are accented with environmental sounds (including the pickup of a cellular electromagnetic interference), wrapping this reverse lullaby into an organic aural pillow of music to wake up to. My favorite moment on the album enters with Scott playing his acoustic guitar (the press release credits a Guild 12-string D-125 and Vintage Guild six-string GF-25) – this is where Scott’s talent as a multi-instrumentalist truly shines – it feels like Simon Scott is all this music, all these sounds, all this one. This is a beautiful record to add to your collection, and if you buy directly from the label you will receive two bonus tracks not available anywhere else. Highly recommended for fans of Rafael Anton Irisarri, William Basinski, Lawrence English and Christian Fennesz.

Etherreal (France):
Poursuivant son parcours parmi les labels électroniques expérimentaux les plus intéressants, Simon Scott fait cette fois-ci escale sur Ash International pour un nouvel album d’ambient, moins lumineuse que sur son précédent album, mais continuant de développer un propos très conséquent et intéressant. Subdivisée en onze séquences, la plage unique d’Insomni voit ainsi l’Anglais convoquer deux guitares (une douze-cordes et une six-cordes) ainsi que plusieurs sources externes (captations aux micros, bribes de sons issus de la radio) pour concocter des textures balançant entre moments assez enveloppants et passages plus acérés quand saturations et larsens sont à l’honneur.
Comme il sait également parfaitement le faire, le Britannique joue sur les variations d’intensité, les oscillations de ses nappes et l’enregistrement en stéréo. Tout cela amène assurément l’auditeur à une expérience d’écoute tout à fait convaincante, résolument impliquante (l’écoute des quarante-deux minutes d’affilée s’imposant) et suffisamment variée. La présence, au début de Nettle Bed, d’arpèges de guitare permet ainsi de moduler le propos, venant après des temps plus expérimentaux et arides. Même constat, un peu plus loin, quand l’instrument se trouve gratté et nimbé d’une belle enveloppe réverbérée (Nember) ou quand la douze-cordes, au son plus métallique, tisse des arpèges dénudés (Far From The Tree). Ces sections, mélodiques et acoustiques, surtout présentes en seconde partie d’album, viennent alors constituer des contrepoints paisibles et accessibles aux fragmentations déployées dans le début d’Insomni. De toute évidence, on peut reprendre la conclusion de notre chronique de Below Sea Level et relever que Simon Scott démontre, une nouvelle fois, « sa faculté à intervenir dans différents styles musicaux avec toujours autant de réussite. [François Bousquet]

Heathen Harvest (USA):
The solo work that Simon Scott has released to date has been quite the opposite when compared with his higher-profile credit as the drummer for Slowdive. Insomni is, like its predecessor in Below Sea Level, an ever-expanding field of tones, guitars, found recordings, and the occasional burst of unidentifiable electronic noise. The music is not necessarily arrhythmic, but it is clear that Scott’s sense of composition is more in tune with tone and texture. Insomni has all of this in its eleven pieces, mixed into a single composition, and Scott’s use of light and dark, ugly and beautiful, is captivating and stunning from beginning to end.

Scott’s last album, the aforementioned Below Sea Level, was more of a conceptual piece with him mixing compositions with recordings captured at the Fens in East Anglia, England—a location he had childhood memories of. The suite of songs that make up Insomni are less tied together by such a specific thematic thread, yet they still have a less obvious consistency between them. The first half is broken up into an alternating pattern of a more fleshed out song that is segued into the next by a shorter, more abstract piece, while the album’s conclusion follows a more conventional template.

“An Angel from the Sea Kissed Me” and “Confusion in Her Eyes” both vary between melodic drones and overt guitar tones (especially in the former), but both also become more dissonant as they grow. “An Angel…” makes a slower transition, from melody into fuzzy, lush distortion that eventually becomes full-on noise for a brief period. On “Confusion in Her Eyes,” Scott retains the more pleasant elements as he pulls the piece into a deeper, bass-heavy place that is exacerbated by grinding, scraping metallic noises to produce a brilliant contrast.

“Oaks Grow Strong” too has a diverse and evolving structure, though with a more loop-focused and electronic tinge to it that eventually becomes much more bleak and messy, with the piece slowly dissolving into chaos in its closing moments. “Relapse” is another with a combination approach: heavy on the feedback and fuzz, but it overall retains an inviting warmth throughout its short duration. My best guess for “Ternal” is that it is the result of a cell phone or other wireless device too close to a guitar pickup, but even with an identifiable source, Scott processes and treats it to something much more nuanced.

The latter half of Insomni differs in that Scott relies more heavily on a pure guitar sound throughout, using the processed and synthetic sounds as less of a primary focus. Acoustic guitar with only the most tasteful of processing is the primary element of “Nember,” with the less obvious, more dissonant sounds leaking in towards its conclusion to excellent effect. The concluding “Swanbark” expands the guitar sound from simple acoustic strums to thicker, more varied layers of sound, concluding with a more electronic, ambient mood at the end.

While it might not be quite as thematically tied as Below Sea Level, Insomni is no less of a powerful and brilliant record. Simon Scott’s diverse array of instrumentation and compositional structures give each piece a distinct feel and mood, but there is a consistency within them that brings the album together as a living, breathing organism that draws from both traditional and digital worlds. That seamless joining of components is what results in such a complex and diverse piece that has its fair share of dissonance and ugliness, but Scott never loses the sense of beauty that pervades each song here.
Blow Up (Italy):

kindamuzik (Netherlands):
Langzaam zak je weg in diepe slaap; driftend waaien dromen je systeem binnen. Onstuimig verlies van controle meandert door het onbewuste. Het aquarium bubbelpruttelt en de ventilator van een dichtgeklapte laptop maakt nog overuren. Dat valt pas op als je een ommetje door het huis maakt tijdens die nachten waarop de slaap niet gevat kan worden en er niets anders opzit dan te gaan sprokkelen, op zoek naar huiselijke (of gedomesticeerde?) geluiden. Als hij ziet waar zijn vingers om de hals grijpen, hoort de gitaar – eenmaal uit de koffer naar het licht gebracht – voor Slowdive-man Simon Scott ook tot het palet. No sleep till…

De majestueuze en gedragen symfonie Insomni rekent af met kortademigheid. Hier geen opgejaagde nachtmerrieklamheid of darkambient-achtig rondwaren in echoënde kerkers. Veertig minuten lang ontwikkelen granulaire gitaartonen, mechanische ruis en knerpende fieldrecordings zich tot een shoegaze-achtige, landschappelijke deken waarbij binnen naar buiten wankelt en scherpe focus oplost in verdichte massa’s amorfe ambiance; als een nevelige internalisatie van een ongrijpbare chaos, heen en weer gebracht naar het daglicht, tot zen-rust zonder al te veel schokkerige verrassingen.

De maan blijkt toch een beetje licht te bieden. Zo botst Scott nergens tegenaan. Die koelkastbromtoon dringt zich in de kalme, intieme en bedrieglijke bijna-stilte van de nachtelijke uren pas op. De vervliegende, normaliter verslapen uren blijken fluisterlevendig, een rustige rusteloosheid die uiteenvalt, zoals bij William Basinski, Christian Fennesz en FS Blumm.

Statig clair-obscur wappert voorbij voor je er erg in hebt. Lodderig ontwaak je. Je vraagt aan je geliefde waarover je hebt gedroomd. Ze moet het antwoord schuldig blijven. En je hebt zelf ook geen idee. Waaiend als graan in de zachte wind sluiert Insomni door vervaagde grijstinten. Onder het plaveisel ontvouwt zich een goudgele, glorende gloed. Of is dit het licht dat langs het gordijn naar binnen piept? Insomni is als een volle ballon, de wekker als prikkende naald en dan geen ‘PANG’ bij aanraking. Zelfs dat niet. [Sven Schlijper]

The New Noise (Italy):
Un anno fa abbiamo dedicato un articolo ai dronegazer italiani, adesso è la volta di parlare di un loro fratello maggiore. Il sound di Insomni (titolo che già è una dichiarazione d’intenti) è infatti costruito su field recordings, chitarra e strumentazione trovata, filtrato attraverso software e soprattutto una sensibilità shoegaze che forse Simon Scott – batterista degli Slowdive –possiede in una certa qual misura, o no? Non bastasse questo a chiarirsi, aggiungo che – per chi non lo avesse seguito – Simon sulla sua strada ha incontrato artisti come Irisarri, contribuendo a It Falls Apart di The Sight Below, e pubblicato per etichette come 12k. Tutti questi indizi danno già un’idea di com’è quest’uscita su Ash International, etichetta-sorella della Touch di Wozencroft, ma solo assaggiandola si capisce quant’è buona. La storia è quella appunto di una notte insonne e la musica sembra seguire questo schema, dato che all’inizio tutto è più confuso e vicino al rumore, mentre alla fine, quando arriva la luce a ridare i contorni a tutto, Simon imbraccia una chitarra acustica e ne propone il suono pulito, così com’è, senza ritocchi digitali (ma con l’aggiunta di qualche linea di synth o di qualche arco campionato). Si tratta di un modo di fare ambient ormai familiare, ma chi più di Simon Scott ha diritto di posizionare il microfono su quel territorio tra veglia e sonno? Da provare. [Fabrizio Garau]

rifraf (France):

BadAlchemy (Germany):

Skug (Austria):
Der Sommer war ja durchaus gut verschnuffelt: Ja, Paniks Herr Spechtl veröffentlichte als Sleep eine Soloplatte über das antikapitalistische Gehalt des Schlafes, Max Richter ließ mit seinem achtstündigen Wiegenlied, ebenfalls »Sleep« betitelt, die ganze Welt träumen – (»hochkulturelle Warmluft«, befand Kollege Cuisine). Gut Aufwachen, so als kleines Addendum zu diesen beiden Schwergewichten, lässt sich ausgerechnet übrigens zu der dritten Platte, die dieser Wochen Schlaf verhandelt: Simon Scott ist Schlagzeuger der Shoegazer Slowdive, arbeitete in seiner langen Karriere unter anderem mit Brian Eno – und legt nun auf Ash sein viertes Soloalbum vor, das nur aus einem Track besteht, was ein bisschen prätentiös ist, weil es einfach allzu deutlich abgetrennte Soundkapitel gibt, das aber mit ozeanischem Wummern, statischem Rauschen, Akustikgitarren, kalt-warmen Früh-Nuller-Post-Rock-Momenten und schönen elektroakustischen Manipulationen mit sanfter Größe, obschon recht unspektakulär in den neuen Tag gleiten lässt. Das inspiriert ist von nächtlichen Geräuschen, die Scott wachhalten, den Drones des Kühlschranks etwa. Und indeed folgenden Namen trägt: »Insomni«. [Steffen Greiner]

Rock-A-Rolla (UK):

Other Music (USA):
Producing an album of timeless, architectural delight, Slowdive-drummer Simon Scott turns insomnia into a creative device. Using a mix of thick yet subtle sounds, field recordings, alternatingly diffusing electric and naked acoustic guitars, as well as a whole range of sonic effects, this is a record full of blistering ambience and opposing sonic vibrations. Exploring the liminal differences between light and dark, waking and sleep, and infinitely hypnagogic and real, Insomni is a captivating listen throughout, making it all the more baffling when considering its producer’s habitual musical alliance.

Radio Nacional de España (Spain):
Comenzamos con el multiinstrumentista británico Simon Scott y su última entrega: “Insomni” que supone su cuarto álbum y su debut para Ash International publicado por Touch.

Su música es una fusión de la señal digital manipulada, combinada con una estética preciosista de sonidos ambientales y texturas acústicas orgánicas.
Para conseguir sus sonidos, Simon se inspira en su interés por la ecología del sonido, la tecnología de la música, la naturaleza, la ilustración, la fotografía, la composición y el arte sonoro.

Abrimos nuestro programa con dos cortes de este delicado Insomni lleno de texturas, como vais a apreciar en estos dos tracks. Hemos comenzado Atmósfera con “Confusion In Her Eyes”

Desde finales de los 90, los trabajos en solitario de Scott han sido vistos en películas internacionales, exhibiciones de arte sonoro, producciones de danza, televisión y proyectos digitales multimedia. Ha estado girando por todo el mundo desde 1988 además es el batería de la banda británica Slowdive, que trabajó con Brian Eno en su álbum “Souvlaki” de 1993.

Y por si todo esto fuese poco, en 2008, Scott creó el sello KESH que publica trabajos de artistas sonoros y visuales y ha colaborado con varios proyectos con Taylor Deupree, Nils Frahm, Machinefabriek, The Sight Below, Isan y James Blackshaw.

Darkfloor (UK):
Right on my door step is a vast flat area of land known as The Fens. They take in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and the bit of the county that I live in – Cambridgeshire. Another resident of Cambridgeshire is Simon Scott – drummer with Slowdive, label head at Kesh, and artist with Touch. It is with Touch (no its not – ed.) that he has released his new album Insomni. An album I have become not so quietly obsessed with over the last few days.

Recently, and for the first time in a long time, I drove through a small part of The Fens and later mentioned on Twitter that having heard a small part of the album it would have been the perfect piece of music to accompany me on my journey. A few days later I was back, this time with the perfect soundtrack – Insomni– a slow sprawling album that perfectly captures the landscape through the use of plaintive acoustic segments and overdriven guitar moments that reflected the long low heavy clouds I was driving into. It’s field recordings made me feel like I was driving with the windows open.

I plan to go back again very soon, this time with my camera and microphone in a bag on the back seat, so I can capture some of this ancient landscape for myself. I understand that this is less of a review and more of a personal reflection. But, when an album is this close to home it makes you open your eyes once again and really look at what is right in front of you. Beautiful work from beginning to end. Lay flat. Switch your thought process to sepia and let this wash over you.

Boomkat (UK):
Slowdive’s Simon Scott swallows us whole with the majestic ‘Insomni’, his debut for Ash International. As the album title implies, this album deals with sleep, or a lack of it, and most particularly the liminal spaces between light/dark, waking/dreams, and natural/noumenal realms. In Scott’s own words “Couldn’t sleep…; arose to forage for sound. The hum of the fridge encouraged further investigation of hidden, domestic sounds; the fish tank, dvd player, a broken laptop…; Dawn and morning light allowed more sound and the guitar, in its case, beckoned…; From darkness to light…” And thus unfolds a 40 minute inward/outward journey, diffusing guitars, Buddha Machine and location recordings thru Max MSP, Supercollider and LogicPro to render a nebulous, dynamic sound field seamelessly strung between sheeting shoegaze and blistering ambience contrasting sharply with relatively shocking pockets and planes of naked acoustic guitar. Still, few can do this sound quite like the Slowdive man.

Rockdeluxe (Italy):