CD, Lagunamuch Community, 2007
Cyclical, introspective and delicate, “November” by Unit 21 is a seamless ambient experience that aptly foreshadows the long, bleak months ahead. Another noteworthy project affiliated with the Russian Lagunamuch Community, Unit 21 captures the essence of this seasonal shift, as autumnal decay gradually gives way to stark winter landscapes.
Minimal, but far from featureless, Unit 21’s atmospheric and enveloping compositions transition effortlessly from one to the next, lending “November” a cohesiveness unmatched in many similar ambient recordings. It is also characterized by a rough-edged quality. Gritty textures recalling analog reverb and the familiar, crackling hum of an old 45 seem right at home in the vaguely unsettling ebb and flow of darker atmospherics. The album’s distinct quality of low fidelity wraps the listener in a cocoon of warmth and comfort. Until the final, fading note, “November” provides the sustenance required to endure until the days lengthen once more.
From the outset, “Baltic Morrow” gains attention with a softly ringing alarm bell that soon melts away against the lo-fi hum and caressing shades of a frosty dawn. As this first track diminishes near its end into the muffled roar of a distant train, it segues smoothly into the next – the epic and mesmerizing “Longway Railpull.” Like a lazy, spinning turntable, the piece creates an extended evolution to the metronomic, marrow-deep reverberations of “To the Temptress” – the first real rhythmic element on the album. This more sinister trend continues in “Flesh,” where breathy bass pulses hint at something monstrous lurking below. Steadily a machine drone overtakes the track, applying a thick layer of noise until the resurgence of the rhythmic elements. The shuffling paperwork interlude of “Get Home” provides a chance to regroup before the sedative, oscillating drones and tones of “Snow On Your Bed” breathe like shifting air and the howling of lost souls. In one instant the listener is both lulled to sleep and feels the prickling skin of gooseflesh. Finally, “November” trails off into the subconscious void with the disarming and impressionistic harmonies of “Call Up the Silence and See.”
— Dutton Hauhart