It seems appropriate that Luis Miehlich’s Timecuts, released in November 2019, should be out on Whitelabelrecs, a label who issue a mere 50 physical editions of each record they handle. Miehlich’s vanishing album gently swells and recedes with a hypnotic motion. Floating between the sublime and the eerie, the record is only occasionally dulled by the odd pang of reality.
The opening of the record is heralded by the incidental bells of Timecuts Pt.I and Pt.II, radiating a hazy yet captivating luminescence that serenely draws you in. The celestial ringing provides a transcendental, elevated atmosphere of sonic indulgence and it is quite easy to begin feel yourself slip into a detached ecstasy.
A delicate yet more-present drone in Pt.II adds a clarity of form and direction to the whimsical clanging. Ebbing and flowing with the gentle cacophony, it teases a resolution that remains elusive throughout and, as the album title suggests, suspension remains is a central affect of the work
The heavenly bliss, however, is interrupted by the well-trodden trope of rainfall in the distance (seconded only by the creaking of wooden floor as per Timecuts Pt.IV). ‘Hatsuyume’ is a slightly needless break between Timecuts Pt.II and Pt.III, with the latter using more fully-fledged motifs on piano, guitar and voice for a more varied and rich sound without losing any of the ethereal impetus. It is here where we begin to get a sense of Miehlich’s skills as a composer as the emotive guitar line strains, but does not break, fragile limits of the record.
The disparate chorus of guitar samples in ‘Memo’ coalesce from disorientated to soaring ensemble, before fading and disappearing entirely amongst the static residue.
Closing Miehlic’s contributions to the album, the dark inflections of ‘Genshi Pt.I & II’ add a mournful note as sporadic percussion imitates steps clattering away into obscurity. Sombre piano chords and mounting woodwind give the firm, bassy grounding that Timecuts had seemingly shirked for hollow fancifulness, the deep sigh which follows the indulgence of far away thoughts.
The album closes with four contributors (some Whitelabelrecs regulars), each giving their take on Miehlich’s work. While some fail to stand on their own two feet and begin to sound like the best bits of the Timecuts saga put together, others — particularly SineRise’s ‘Genshi Pt.IV’ — capture the subtle beauty of the record as a whole.
Overall, familiar tropes and asides remain a touchstone to a broad ambient music and don’t help plumb the thematic depths of this rich yet focussed record. Miehlich’s majesty is most clear, however, when it is too arranged clearly, stripped of tangential forays and simply allowed to convey a coherent and absorbing beauty.