The North Sea & Rameses III Night of the Ankou

[Type; 2006]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: drone, folk, psychedelic
Others: Pelt, Growing, Stars of the Lid, K. Leimer

Tulsa's resident folk freak Brad Rose and London's blessed-out psych trio Rameses III have never met, yet they sound like musically kindred spirits with a psychic orchestra behind them. Night of the Ankou begins with droning downers reminiscent of Indian tambouras, and a hole only gets dug deeper from there. Washes of acoustic guitar, chimes, and reverb-drenched flutes carve out a niche that is as delicate as it is monolithic. Although they could certainly be described as non-intrusive, their music sounds too drugged to be ambient. In addition, Night of the Ankou doesn't entirely go by without calling attention to itself. Despite its non-rhythmic bliss, the first piece, "Death of the Ankou," maintains a feeling of forward motion, similar to the slowly unfolding atmospheres in the music of Popol Vuh. The second piece, "Night Blossoms Written in Sanskrit," doesn't move forward as much as it simply builds a sonically euphoric atmosphere. Persistent yet light-as-a-feather guitar strums wisp along over heavenly drones, and if Julee Cruise were to stop by with her airy voice, their group would be in top form to play the music from Twin Peaks.  Although they share infinitely spacious backdrops and an ethereal melancholy, Julee Cruise was not invited to this jam, allowing the North Sea and Rameses III to elaborate on the eerie backdrops that made Cruise's vocal jazz so interesting.

Night of the Ankou makes no distinction between foreground and background until Type Records label head Xela steps in for a remix at the end of the disc. How does one go about remixing a drone? Xela, while sensitive not to squash the spacious atmospheres, adds his own layers of DJ noise, similar to the non-rhythmic sounds of DJ Spooky, and gives the music a sense of direction that wasn't there before. Although providing a different, more linear perspective on their music, Xela's remix comes off as an abbreviated version of what came before it and is superfluous after hearing the two complete, omnipresent mantras. Fortunately, not even a 12-inch dance mix could spoil the meditative quality and feeling of sonic euphoria that Night of the Ankou successfully delivers.

1. Death if the Ankou
2. Night Blossoms Written in Sanskrit
3. Return of the Ankou (Xela Remix)