Ripperton – Sight Seeing

Transcendence in transition

After spending quite some time with Wolfgang Voigt’s Rückverzauberung Exhibition I wanted to follow it up with something that is somehow related and at the same time decidedly different. Ripperton fit that need perfectly.

Both albums are predominantly ambient works, and yet that’s more or less the full extent of what they have in common – except for the fact that they are very fine albums. Each in their own way. Ripperton is not out to challenge us with dissonances, he is not mephistophelean in any way, and his ambition is not to create modern classical music. His approach is much more based in reflection and expressionism.

Most of what we hear on “Sight Seeing” feels like an aural expression of a mind in transition. Not from one state of mind to another but rather one place to another. It’s an album full of echoes of things that have recently happened, as if resting and reflecting, a recording of the inner sensations of a person that has just left, spending time in a transitory space, and has not yet turned their awareness to what will happen next.

The artist himself refers to the tracks on this album as postcards to himself, as “messages from his subconscious recorded on tape”, alluding to the melancholy of a Monday that follows a weekend journey. As much as that may be true, I feel that this is just one dimension of the mood that is present on this album, and somehow melancholy is a label that is a little too easy to apply.

There is more, and in my ears this is not a Monday. It’s more like an in-between time. The weekend journey is over, but Monday isn’t looming yet. The goodbyes have been exchanged, you have left the house, but arrival is not on your mind yet.

Like a 2:00 AM cab ride. The bags are in the trunk, except for the one that’s always by your side, you sit in the back of the cab, feeling the tiredness of the past days letting you sink into the seat. It’s an airport lounge in the late evening, almost all flights having left already and the passengers with them, the rows of seats empty, the mind not seeing the taxiing planes but rather letting the visual reflections of the weekend drift by, echoes of beats along with them. A view from a plane, down at the earth that slowly passes by, head resting against the wall, seeing but not registering, mind wandering but not thinking.

Just like the things you see and don’t see, musical elements on these tracks sometimes drift away, without fully disappearing, as if it was our minds that drift away, from silently watching to letting the images pass by to letting the eyes close slowly to drifting into a state that is somewhere between deeply felt exhaustion and a gratitude for meditative moments to let the spirit settle down again. “Hélios” does this in perfection as the conscious layer gradually leaves the foreground and the subconscious that has been there all along takes over until everything dissolves.

Shorter pieces on this album feel like smaller scenes, moments captured in sound, attempting to recreate the emotional essence of these fragments – this is when the postcard analogy is most appropriate. Other tracks feel more like long shots in a movie, allowing us to slip into the moment, the mind, the sentiment.

This is music that lets you feel you can be glad to be lonely, you can step away from yourself and rest, find gratefulness in detachment, sense the liberation of not being anywhere in particular, not being related to anything. The world will return at some point, there is no hurry, it will happen all by itself. No need to think about it, to expect anything, to do anything.

“Sight Seeing” is a gift for exactly these moments. When you have checked in for the flight and want to check out from the world for the while it takes to get to wherever you are. There are moments when you are slightly torn out of this blissful detachment like an unwelcome disturbance, making a track like “Miroir d’Eau” a questionable selection for this album – this is not Monday looming, this is the sudden realization that you are still sitting in the lounge because someone just entered it, barking into his mobile.

It’s a good thing that this is not the last track on this album. “Meteorhythme” may not let us slip back into our splendid isolation, but it does prepare us for the simple fact that there is going to be an arrival, a landing, a week to follow. Time to get back to the here and now.

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