Stargazer’s Assistant - Remoteness of Light (House of Mythology)

Sonic voyagers bring a darker take to the ambient genre on expansive new set

Released Aug 25th, 2016 via House Of Mythology / By Erick Mertz
Stargazer’s Assistant - Remoteness of Light (House of Mythology) With a band name like Stargazer’s Assistant, I expect wandering elements and a pause for the sheer vastness of everything. At the center of the spiraling void, UK percussionist David J Smith crafts the tracks on Remoteness of Light a conceptual ambient/world music influenced piece.

The tracks on Remoteness of Light build up and transition gradually, centering patiently on very soft progressions. They ease from one burst of colorful energy to another, introducing one layer upon the layer before, as the first song, Agents of Altitude which builds from soft wind chimes, into scattershot percussion, layering production fuzz and synthesizer keys on its way to a chaotic vocal/guitar crescendo. Smith creates a song that feels like a medley of Third World inspirations. The last title track is the errant wanderer, dangling spare tones throughout the mix, giving rise to some jangly rhythm guitar and distant percussion to fade the record out. The tracks are all massive in length, around twenty minutes, bringing the whole thing in at around an hour, the shortest the middle World Of Amphibia at eighteen minutes and fifteen seconds.

There isn’t a lot to read on the Internet about Smith or about Stargazer’s Assistant, but that seems apropos the concept here. In introducing the idea of distance from light, I’m left to crave a far from the corners of the galaxy sensation, and this record, for the most part, meets that. My main issue, if I have one to bandy about, is the lack of tactile elements in the esoteric production. Many times throughout, the songs on Remoteness of Light feel like museum pieces, to be enjoyed from a position of remove when I have childlike curiosity to touch, examine, feel. Considering how percussion heavy it is, I find that choice off-putting and a barrier to full embrace.

All told, I found each of the three songs on Remoteness of Light to be engrossing though, and a refreshing take on darker ambience, which seems mired in a nihilistic place. They’re expansive pieces, effervesce a sort of sonic curiosity and feel like they’ve been given room to explore the full breadth of the musical ideas.