ALTUS – The Time Collection (2015)

coverreview by Richard Gürtler

Acclaimed Ottawa, Canada-based ambient drifter Mike Carss, acting under his moniker Altus, was always known as an artist who focused on digital formats only and offered them for free through his website. As a really huge collector of physical formats, I have never paid any attention to this talented and productive soundscaper. But the turning point came sometime around the middle of December, 2014, when Altus announced his first physical release, a double pro CDr edition entitled The Time Collection, limited to 40 numbered copies. The release date was scheduled for January 7, 2015, so no wonder this was for me the most crucial thing to do on that day. This attractive double set, divided to two parts, is packaged in an elegant metal tin featuring transparent stickers on the front and back, with two additional inserts/artworks, containing images and the track list for each part. “The Time Collection” consists of “Part I: Ghost Of Time” with 6 tracks, while “Part II: Time Forgotten” features 4 pieces, with a total time over 150 minutes! As a really proud owner of this nice collector’s item, I wanted to pen down some lines about this wonderful piece of art. Yes, it’s way too long after its release; this 2-CDr edition has been sold out for long time. As far I remember, it was sold in 2 or 3 days, but nevertheless, it really deserves to be praised, and I am really glad I can do it now! And as usual for all Altus’s recordings, it’s still available in digital formats for free, so the magic still awaits…

“Illusionary Progression”, a nearly 15-minute soundscape, ignites the journey with a subtle organic intro, but soon utterly spacious drifts steal the show. Catchy undulations of fascinatingly increasing intensity venture into the deepest corners of atmospheric bliss. Magnificently crescendoing soundsculpting leaves me breathless after few minutes. What a journey, you must experience this!

To me, it’s an immediate magnum opu,s entering the pantheon of the giants of deep ambient voyaging! Bravo, Altus. “Like Sand Through Fingers”, I love that title, is only slightly shorter than its predecessor, but as immersive. Less intense, more static at the beginning, choir-like drones continuously arise, smoothly nuanced and accompanied by eternally intangible tinkles. Enigmatic intensity inconspicuously permeates through graciously amorphous blankets, while hissy fragments emerge here and there. Another triumphant composition. “Absolve the Past” immediately dives into grandiosely symphonic terrain, enchantingly yearning and gorgeously tiding, with a voluminous cinematic touch. “Live For the Now” is filled with interstellar grandness, gracefulness and magnificence. “Brave the Future” continues the odyssey with soothingly expansive washes, gliding, cascading and evanescing through ephemerally piercing altitudes. “Aetas” closes “Part I: Ghost Of Time” and delves into magnificently subterranean sceneries, exquisitely immense and enthrallingly transporting. An array of drones and transcendental choirs are hauntingly sinuous and meticulously reinforced by transient yet insidiously puncturing outbursts. A colossally fascinating conclusion! “Part I: Ghost Of Time” is a real treat for each connoisseur of pure atmospheric driftscapes.

“Part II: Time Forgotten” unfolds with nearly 14-minute “The Patience Of Eternity”, an ultra-deep dronescape descending into shadowy zones of unfathomable depths. Monumental layers of intense monochromatism are masterfully bridged with glimpses of dramatically illuminating dissonances counterpointed with warmer, more peaceful deep-sea sceneries. The 16-plus minute long “Memory Thief” continues delving into perplexing zones, carving mesmerizingly mindscaping helixes, ear-tickling surges continuously awake and climax, and ethereal voices gracefully cruise above. “What You Leave Behind” merges serene but immensely embracing undulations with wistfully euphoric string-like patterns, soothingly meandering with immense billows.

The closing, 30-minute “Walk With Oblivion” dives into fascinatingly otherworld realms sculpted with breathtakingly abyssal drones, splendorously fragranced with spectacularly flickering lights. Fully rewarding, thrilling crescendos and transcendental transitions continuously emerge. This must be Altus at his most creative, grandiose and shapeshifting! A grand finale. Undoubtedly, compositions such as “Walk With Oblivion” or “Illusionary Progression” are the best examples why I am journeying with this kind of music. Thank you so much, Maestro!

The Time Collection, recorded between July and November 2014, is an absolutely triumphant recording by Mike Carss/Altus, showcasing his huge auralscaping potential. A true sonic monument, hauntingly displayed also by Carss’s long exposure photographs. The gates of Atmospheric Heaven are unlocked! As mentioned above, it’s been sold out for long time, but I really hope this is not the last CDr installment by this Canadian. The next step might be a glass mastered CD; if not, then there is no justice in this world! The Time Collection has been available as free download since February 20th, 2015, so there is no excuse for not owning this milestone. Act now!

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