It’s always interesting when something dominates your attention to the point where you have to stop what you’re doing and focus solely on it. Usually, this comes from reading a breaking news headline, or watching the last few seconds of an intense football game, but I would never have expected that something so demanding of my time and energy would come from an ambient album. Bing Satellites have been composing music for years, and their seemingly endless discography attests to their prowess in electronic, drone, and ambient. While their newest album is one of many stellar releases from Bing Satellites, I was instantly captivated by the layered chants that started this release.
RELEASE DATE: 12 November 2016 LABEL: Self-released
How to Make a Person Whole Again is an enthralling statement, and its lingering questions provide the framework for the album to unfold. Its nature may come from the fact that the album was made during the recovery of a hernia operation, but I suspect that this album digs deeper than mere physical recovery. The album itself draws from themes of reflection, and the first track “Exploration” is the catalyst that starts this process. The layered vocals that are featured at the start of the song and throughout the album are in fact reflections of our primitive forms of music, comprised mainly of vocal chants and harmonies. The song starts with one of these phrases, and as it loops and spins in and out of human recognition a heavy, brooding drone atmosphere takes over. The sonic diversity and power of this track locked me in from the beginning, and this weight is carried throughout the span of the album.
“We are all lost sometimes” carries a much darker tone as the album progresses, and the piano featured throughout the track are low-pitched and hauntingly loud chords of dread. While it does feature the softer, lighter nature that the piano is commonly used for in Bing Satellites’ music, the contrast between both the oppressing and serene heightened this song’s underlying potential. The final track on the album, “I May Not Have Gone Where I Intended to Go, but I Think I Have Ended Up Where I Needed to Be” illuminates the darker expanses of the album. The title alone is breathtaking, and the music confirms its intentions. The Gregorian-esque chants are seldom featured, and the track’s “less is more” approach with the piano makes it all the more powerful. While it does provide resolution, it may not be the happy ending that you would expect. Sometimes, the process of recovery and reconstruction leads to small victories, and just because a complete turnaround can happen, it doesn’t mean that it should.
How to Make a Person Whole Again does more than hold your attention, it immerses you in its world, similar to the way a dark movie theater deafens all sense of time. When you finish this album, you step back into reality, see the world again, and ponder “What time is it?” The themes of loss, recollection, and recovery have never been so poignant in an album that features no discernable lyrics, and that fact alone makes this release worth checking out.