Two Lakes, a collaboration between Australian sound artists Seaworthy + Matt Rösner, is among the most immediately immersive and engrossing drone records I’ve ever heard. Seaworthy + Matt Rösner have wefted together documentary recording and improvised drone collaboration into a seamless, arresting, long-form piece as arresting as it is stately. That last sentence wasn’t review-speak. This is quite an achievement, something this duo manages to accomplish by exhibiting a steadfast dedication to patience and to judicious movement when employing elements from their carefully chosen palette.
On Two Lakes, there are few sounds at any given moment. Those that are present at said moment compose a gorgeously wrought vignette of nearly austere reserve. However, what gives the record its considerable power is the deliberate movement between these sounds, how and when certain pieces fade into and out of the track. The mixing on Two Lakes is impeccable: The resonant burbling churn and slosh of water on “Meroo Rockshelf,” for example, dissolves into the clean, pastoral drones of “Meroo Sedgeland Pt. 1” in a way that’s surprising and gripping, yet somehow still feels inevitable. And the album is nothing less than a succession of these revelations from the beginning to the end.
Music like this—and by “like this,” I mean music that’s designed to be beautiful, peaceful, contemplative, and impressionistic—is rarely actively engaging. If it weren’t for albums like Two Lakes, it would be easy to assume that listener engagement and drifting, naturalistic, minimalistic ambient music are mutually exclusive. The fact is, few albums reach this level of imposed contemplation,* but Two Lakes is certainly one of them.
*Two other albums I can think of that do are the Olivia Tremor Control’s Explanation II: Instrumental Themes and Dream Sequences, one of the most unfairly forgotten ambient records of all time, and Taylor Deupree’s Northern.