The Other Without—
The Other Without 2

Released 2019 on Heavy Rural
The Seth Man, April 2021ce
This second release by Wiltshire duo The Other Without speaks from hypnagogic states, like an organic Shepard Tone set out in a boat upon infinite skies to lull in its ebb’n’flow forever. Supremely serene and meticulously measured, this album is an unfolding wonder. Not least of all how it stands in direct polar opposition to the other work of Neil Mortimer as Urthona: characterised by controlled feedback and riotous rural guitar racket-making. But just as DISCREET MUSIC and METAL MACHINE MUSIC were two flanking poles of Rock inaccessibility in 1975, its 21st Century counterpart could just as easily be The Other Without and Urthona. Whether crackling with energy across the sonic landscape with abstractly crafted waves of distortion and feedback, or quietly reigning in in minimalistic free-flowing drift studies as he does here on THE OTHER WITHOUT 2, Mortimer captures, combines, then releases thought-forms into the sonic air that (to paraphrase Blake) hold Eternity in an hour. Or, in this case: 65 minutes and 51 seconds with four separate and languidly-timed pieces that course and swell at the speed of nature.

The other member of The Other Without, Michael J. York (the other half of Teleplasmiste as well as contributor to releases by Coil, Cycoble and Ulver, among others) contributes on a variety of instrumentation that complement the proceedings with deftly added colourations, particularly in the pair of tracks that reside at the album’s midpoint, “A Novel Method For Determining Galaxy Orbits” and the memorably-titled “Albion Light Vessel.” Although here the sounds become slightly more synthetic, akin to an even gentler approached Kraftwerk as it resides on side 2 of RALF AND FLORIAN (1973), as they plot out quietly chilled arrangements that never distract from their hugely minimalist worlds. On the former, electronic signals burble as they keep their position while simultaneously drifting by weightlessly in suspended animation. The paces of “Albion Light Vessel” are the album’s liveliest, keeping their circular moments consistent as ocean waves cascade in the background. And still, those shimmering, near-“Index Of Metals” iridescent and glittery display of notes continue their dance, evaporating upon the spray, yet remain resolute in their appointment.

The album speaks of the physical’s world own processionals and timings: the turn of the seasons, the comings and goings of weather patterns, the merging of life into earth, of earth springing forth with life, the cycle of tides and the ongoing series of existence and its patterns from the past into the future. It also consistently maintains a high degree of stillness through time and nowhere is this more apparent than the opening extended track with an equally extended name: “Nature Has Made A Garden In The Wilderness And Its True Name Is Beauty.” It’s twenty minutes of becalmed stillness in motion and is a marvel to behold. Glissando guitar gently glides above and within, while the mood of the great outdoors and interior mental world within meld together. The field recording of birds is well-integrated and continues seamlessly, bringing to mind the similar pastoral atmospheres created in Pink Floyd’s “Cirrus Minor,” Be-Bop Deluxe’s “Jets At Dawn,” and Yoko Ono’s “Greenfield Morning I Pushed An Empty Baby Carriage All Over The City.” As beautiful as it is elongated, it sets up the rest of the album as well as the final piece, “Even The Walls Shall Hear Her,” ends it. Returning to the quieter vibes of the opening track, bells quietly chime forward to merge into gentle electronics that waft in and issue forth in undulating waves, soon joined by counterpoint glissando guitar. These waves continually swirl in slow eddies of sonic pools, eventually building into droning towers until some unspecified point in time later, they mysteriously drop off entirely into silence. But at such a gradual snail’s pace there’s no foreshadowing whatsoever. You only experience it when it happens. Beautiful.

The album’s gorgeous photographic sleeve continues a British tradition of putting England’s green and pleasant centre stage on album covers devoid of humans or their typography that began with Hipgnosis’ sleeve for Pink Floyd’s ATOM HEART MOTHER (1970) and twenty years later when The KLF substituted sheep for cows on the sleeve of CHILL OUT (1990). Meanwhile, THE OTHER WITHOUT 2 (2019) transmits an even greater anonymity by forsaking all livestock and casting the very landscape of Albion itself as the cover star. Which makes sense, as the ambience of this recording brings to mind that of the great British outdoors. Available for your living room until you get there, here.