Roger Martinez‘s ‘Horizontal Excursions’ project has undoubtedly produced some of my favourite ambient work these past years. Starting with a self-titled album, and then revisiting this guise to create the magical Places Series release ‘Symphonica Helvetica‘, Roger’s been busy working on this release, ‘Enantiodromia’ for an epic two years now.
For those familiar with ‘Symphonica Helvetica’ (and that’s over 12,000 of you on Soundcloud) you’ll know what to expect here. Taking inspiration from shamanic experiences, Roger crafts a vivid, hour-long journey that envelopes your inner-self.
Starting with a sincere, intense combination of pads and slowly plucked strings, ‘Enantiodromia’ descends into a much calmer state, with distant fizzes and balanced chords. This moment of calm quickly develops into a more intense combination of deep washes, short vocal samples and a gentle dripping of keys – sporadic bursts of light amongst a never-ending horizon. This seemingly random progression brings back memories of the KLF’s Chill-out albujm, with new sounds appearing after every 30 seconds – new textures and a deeper listening experience at every turn (just without the sheep and Elvis Presley samples!)
The guitar-manipulation returns, reverberating against a solid, menacing power, only to once again reach a calmer state – a reset before the next unannounced yet now expected wave. Unlike most ambient albums which tally over 60 minutes, ‘Enantiodromia’ is clearly broken up into sections, but meant as an entire listening experience – there’s absolutely no need for this to be track-listed or separated as its engrossing power leaves you hooked, patiently awaiting the next intense wave, trickling water and gentle glistening melodies.
After 30-minutes, ‘Enantiodromia’ takes a more structured progression, with stepped chords complimenting the stark contrast of intricate water trickles and vast swirling pads. High notes from a piano echo and bounce off the increasing ‘Gas’ sound and then, once again you’ve slowly slipped back into yourself, breathing a moment of calm.
This pattern continues, and ‘Enantiodromia’ depicts a rollercoaster of emotion, increasingly intense yet always delicate. Roger manipulates a wealth of sounds, of instruments, and feelings and this hour becomes a vivid landscape of ambient music. “Enantiodromia is all about opposites” Roger quotes, and like the up-downs on the title track, Roger compliments this release with a second track, ‘Close to me’. Like his difference in alias, this one features beats and is a beautiful example of a dub-techno track driven by a master-mind of ambient music.
Listen to the complete ‘Enantiodromia’ below, also available to pre-order, with full release on the 15th June 2013.
I realised that Roger is quite the enigmatic character so I fired a couple of questions over to him to get a little insight into his world.
For those relatively new to your music, can you explain your different approaches and what they mean to you?
Well, there are several ways through which my creative expressions flow. Whatever the stylistic differences, there is always one common factor in each of my art forms and that is the sharing and communication of an experience. Through music, I’ve for example experienced the feeling of true interconnectedness with people on a deep, essential level. Especially during live performances this is possible and it gives me the necessary inspiration and motivation to continue with what I’m doing. So it really doesn’t matter if it’s banging Techno music or contemplative Ambient music, my goals and motivation with both are the same.
Your first self-titled album was quite a beauty, how long does something like this take to put together? Which techniques do you use?
Well, it really depends. My upcoming Ambient album “Enantiodromia” took 2 years to complete. But sometimes I can produce a lot of material in a few months. I don’t have a steady workflow. What’s far more important is being sensitive to the forming of the right circumstances to be creative. Sometimes you’re on fire for several weeks, then you know that it’s time to get going, other times I’m totally drained for months, but for me that’s always a sign that there are other ways to enjoy life, so I travel or visit a good museum. That said, I’m not really obsessed with my music and art.
The techniques I’ve used to create the two Ambient albums are a combination of field recordings, ranging from nature recordings to recordings of shamanic ceremonies.
Was your Places Series release – ‘Symphonica Helvetica’ approached any differently?
More of the same actually. I have a big database of all sorts of recordings I’ve made whenever I’m traveling or visiting special events for instance. There’s a lot of inspiring and one of a kind material in there. For my Places Series project I focused on everything that had to do with the Swiss Alps because they’re a big part of my life at the moment. I often travel to Switzerland to do some intensive mountain hiking and enjoy the fresh mountain air and nature there. The Alps are one of the last places in Western Europe that still have certain very wild, untouched areas. In these areas you can still experience solitude and a deep connection to Nature and everything around you. In general my musical pieces reflect my life and the experiences that I’m having at that moment. In some way every musical piece is a testament to a certain period or experience in my life.
It seems your Horizontal Excursions work is few and far between, so what can we expect in the future?
Who knows, I’m currently busy working on a soundscape to inaugurate the opening of a bridge here in the Netherlands. Also, I’m now very focused on performances with live acoustical instruments. I like to call them musical meditations. I’m always working on what interests me and drives me at the moment, I’m constantly evolving and I am content with that dynamic.