Immersion - Analogue Creatures Living On An Island

Immersion – Analogue Creatures Living On An Island

It’s been 17 years since Immersion were a substantial presence in the music community. They just about pre-date the internet, which means that their cache amongst the current brand of indie hipsters is lower than it should be. The husband and wife duo of Colin Newman (from Wire) and Malka Spigel (from Minimal Contact) have their own profiles to play on, but the three albums that they made together in the 90s are now no more than a cult concern.

What a joy then that they should re-emerge with such a quietly stunning new record. The same deft touch with electronic composition is there, with most of the tracks here proudly sporting a hypnotic, lilting spectral atmosphere that owes an unmistakable debt to the 70s German masters of experimentation. Discussions surrounding their previous work rarely passed without mention of Cluster or Tangerine Dream, and that should remain the case this time too.

But Analogue Creatures Living On An Island marks one major departure for Immersion, and that is the incorporation of electric guitars into the melting pot. Not the electric guitars that convey attack, machismo or fury, however. Here, guitars are so seamlessly integrated into these tracks that you have to go back to the prior albums to double check that it is a new development at all. ‘Shapeshifters’ is one of the album’s immediate headline tracks, offering a lighter, more optimistic slant on the Immersion tradition that is welcome. Never have Newman’s two bands been so evidently united.

The duo have recently moved to Brighton, and they admit that the ability to stand at the edge of the vast ebbing tide has influenced the album. It’s not just in the themes conveyed in the album and track titles, but in the contents therein – the lapping, open-ended circularity of opening track ‘Always The Sea’, for instance. The imagery that is conjured here, and on other similar tracks, including ‘Living on an Island’ and ‘Slow Light’, is also evocative of the world-building that was so common in Brian Eno’s 70s solo albums. The track ‘Mechanical Creatures’ feels heavily influenced by the specific details described in the lyrics throughout ‘Another Green World’, and the buzzsaw synthesiser lines likewise call to mind the shorter instrumental tracks from that classic record.

The album is entirely instrumental, but markedly less ambient than their work to date. The synths are frequently full-bodied and melodic, where previous work had more often relied on more abstract, sparsely arranged soundscapes. They have never been better at conjuring clear images out of their compositions though, and by a few carefully allocated song titles and expertly executed arrangements, they have created an entire internal parallel universe. Whether Newman and Spigel decide to continue the Immersion project further is yet to be seen, but on this evidence there is far more to explore.

Immersion  Soundcloud | Facebook 

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.