Leonard Donat: “Tremors Today” LP (2023)

Leonard Donat’s second album, “Tremors Today,” is a dark ambient concept album that expresses the currently rising sea levels and the near-future aftermath of this reality, inherent in which is the end of our civilization. Donat says, “There are washed out drones, detuned pianos, and slowly spiralling tones that seem to reach out of the speaker-box to create a terrifying, yet strangely soothing blanket of sound and noise.”

“Incoming Anomaly” is just over one-minute long. Its gently sad piano arpeggio is beautiful and calming, but providing a counterpoint to this is the static noise in the background that reminds me of the sea. The brevity of this piece is fitting given that the illusion of civilization and calm that we currently occupy is a brief spell that we’ve allowed ourselves to fall under before the fast-approaching flood forces us out of denial.

“Washing Over” is full of droning tones. Darkly menacing and horrific tones lap over one another like the rising waves on our shores. At times I felt like I couldn’t breathe and began remembering moments of swimming underwater as a child – how dulled my senses became, especially my sense of hearing. One of the magical things about being underwater is that it cancels out so much noise – simulating a kind of cocoon like experience. Washing Over, tremorous and heavy as it is, somewhat recreated this cocoon like experience for me. It bears mentioning that there actually are spells of higher, softer, warmer, and lighter drones, particularly earlier on in the piece, with it gradually growing darker and deeper over the course of its 15:24 runtime. It ends rather abruptly given that the next piece, “Level Up,” presents a significant change in tone that’s more akin with Incoming Anomaly, and this stark contrast is slightly jarring at first but very much in keeping with the theme. For as Donat explains, “Level Up is the morning after the disaster…” Just as the disaster would begin abruptly and escalate with uninterrupted intensity, so too would it end abruptly, which is why this transition is so appropriate.

“Resident Sea” is a twenty-minute meditation on the cataclysmic deluge that has now made us all residents of the sea…It’s a stunning piece and my personal favourite. There are no more mammals roaming the dry lands because there is no land. Fish find their way into your old suburban neighbourhood. Fish find their way into your skyscraper. Fish find their way into everything. If one of the four pieces on this album best encapsulated the album title, it would be Resident Sea, the droning tones of which emulates tremors that are each punctured by a still silence. After 13:14 the next two droning durations increase to around one-minute each. The drone that starts around 15:15 lasts for nearly two-minutes. The breaks between droning lifespans shortens again following 17:10 right to the end. There are highly subtle gradations of colour and timbre that are equally haunting and beautiful. A tremor can be basically defined as a vibration, and there is something very true to that definition on Resident Sea, which instills the sense of an ongoing earthquake or the shifting of huge bodies of water.

Find & Follow:
Tremors Today is available on Cassette, CD, and Digitally from Blackjack Illuminist Records on Bandcamp!

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