Review: The Pastoral, Idyllic Minimalism of Smagghe & Cross’ ‘1819’

Smagghe & Cross | 1819 | Offen Music

Release Date: 27 January, 2020

1819’ brings to mind sprawling, pastoral landscapes; meadows filled with blooming, phantom flowers – a tranquil beauty, sprouting in the shade of drifting grey clouds. With ‘1819’ being the second collaborative release between French ‘minimalist-electro’ producer Ivan Smagghe, and award-winning English composer Rupert Cross; the combination of rich talent between the two artists shines through in a uniquely thoughtful offering.

With a return to Offen Music, the duo bring an aura of melancholy to their minimalist electronic approach in ‘1819’; the atmosphere of each track encompassing a specific type of textural narrative – from pensive, ambient reflections to shadowy traverses and spectral blossoms, the intricate construction of moody electronics provide space for feelings of twilight introspection; sometimes dark and gloomy, hopeful and touching – or simply filled with emotion and a delicate ethereal tranquility.

Monody‘s halcyon melody nurses a feeling of isolation; the idyllic soundscape lush and otherworldly as an introspective dream. Rolling emerald hills spring from the melancholia of the reverb-tinged synths; the gentle ambience of grey clouds looming over a lone, pensive being. Vast stretches of a beautiful, seemingly intangible realm stretching outward before them – disappearing into the soft gradient of a reflective horizon in the track’s bittersweet, tender soundscape.

The moody darkness engulfing ‘Drain‘ lingers as a swollen storm, bellies filled with metallic raindrops; spectral timbres clash as thick tin-thunder, steel clashes somewhere far off in the distance – a full, slow bass pulses steadily, bouncing off an atmosphere thick with an industrial aura – as if wandering through the back alleys of a bustling city. A curiosity sits within the rumination of the ambience, the twang of distorted synths swelling into delicate layers of sound. An emotive aura dwells within the shadowy timbres – an intricate composition that could easily be found within a film score, the minimalism thoughtful and stirring.

Le Soleil Levant‘ radiates blue skies and fresh air; iridescent sunbeams illuminating a realm brimming with life, sprawling meadows cradling waves of petals and pollen – a delicate, sweet synth sweeping the picturesque soundscape. ‘Le Soleil Levant’ sings as flowers turning their faces toward the sun, the uplifting nature reminiscent of the painting in ‘1819’s cover art: peaceful, kind pastels bathing in a loving sun, stemming from the moody blues of the foreground. With the title translating to “the rising sun”, the hopeful ambience embraces a feeling of organic warmth, electronic textures spilling across the soundscape in an immersive, charming minimalism.

Stream & Purchase 1819 by Smagghe & Cross
Rating: 7.5 / 10

Feature Image: Smagghe & Cross by Kate Green