Kagami Smile “Obscured Face”

Another release from super prolific ambient artist Ryan Hill, this tape sees him accessing a colder side of Kagami Smile’s output. The cover might look like it will be a selection of vaporwave candy floss hits, but this is some oppressive shit to get through. 

Rather than sinking into clouds and being allowed to drift, as a listening experience, this is like being trapped under weighted blankets of tones. There’s nothing overtly sinister or reminiscent of your typical dark ambient styles, but Obscured Face is heavily restrictive and claustrophobic nonetheless. The opener, and title track, sets out the full stall early with cloudy edges of stasis that fall into zone-out loops of internal reflections. The track’s movie screen corners curl inwards as the listener is stuck in a dissolving sonic portrait. Sounds crumble as sounds decay and then get trapped in amber on repeat ad-infinitum.

It’s not a particularly easily defined listen; there are no over-processed vibery or identifiable live sounds here. Obscured Face just cements smothering pressures and permanently re-lays weight. 

The uneasy closer “Reflecting Mirror” sounds like the great breaths of some epic thing, some Marvel universe world eater who’s swallowed his fill. Sounds fade, leaving uneasiness and frayed edges. These five tracks are Industrial atmospheres made from a gentler material than usual and wrapped in a pastel cover.

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