Sometimes, an album comes along which blows everything else out of the water. Then, you learn it’s the artist’s very first release in this particular style. And then, that little tingly feeling you get from discovering a new favourite artist creeps up your back at you sit clasping your headphones with eyes wide open, in anticipation for the next track, for more, and more.
This sounds pretty dramatic, but this is exactly how I felt when I first heard Roger Martinez’s self-titled production as Horizontal Excursions. The electronic DJ/Producer from the Netherlands had well and truly grabbed my attention under his new moniker and his album, was easily one of the best releases of 2011.
Two years later, Roger has revisited his Horizontal Excursions ambient guise, taken a trip into nature’s beating heart and pulled off another absolutely beautiful piece of work that ambient enthusiasts like me, simply fall for again and again.
The wilderness stirs something primal and unfathomable in us all. We become overwhelmed, awestruck, even emboldened, by these untamed frontiers, content to revel in the unspoiled beauty or compelled to explore what lies within. For some, it’s a cold, harsh reality; an unforgiving tundra of survival and subsistence. But, when afforded the indulgence, this isolation is the purest of them all.
“There aren’t many places left in Western Europe where you can still immerse yourself in pure wilderness” Roger begins, “in fact, the only environment where I have truly experienced this is in certain parts of Switzerland. My latest trip to Zermatt, located in the canton of Valais, has greatly shaped the music in this symphony and I was reminded that all of nature is something that should be respected and revered.”
A regular traveller through the country, Roger’s willingness to lose himself (in every sense of the word) in the abundance of natural beauty heralded Symphonica Helvetica – an untainted journey through the mysticism of the Alps, velveteen swoop of Swiss valleys, and the siren-song of nature.
“Away from the large cities of Zürich and Basel, you enter into a totally different kind of environment,” he states. “For me mountainous areas epitomize something indescribable, something sacred. I lose sense of identity and, sometimes literally, become lost in the landscape around me.
Inspired by the power of his surroundings, Symphonica Helvetica crystallizes those moments, and Roger captures, and softens, the endeavour of trekking through the terrain. A symphonic soundtrack that casts a heavy ambient blanket, there’s a sense of uphill resistance as the summit nears; the enormity of casting an infinite gaze for miles; the deep, contented inhale as you survey the forest canopy thousands of feet below and feel, for that moment, like it’s all you.
“In these places you really see nature at work: sculpting, flowing and grinding through the mountains,” Roger explains. “The fruits of my past trips through the mountains of Switzerland have amalgamated into the symphony that I present to you here. This is the musical translation of the visions and experiences I had standing on the edge of mountain cliffs, overlooking valleys, walking through snow-clad forests, enchanted by mountain tops in full view. These are the shamanic songs of Mother Nature still at reign in her grand domain: a living myth put into sound pressure waves.”
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