[sic] Magazine

subtractiveLAD – Life At The End Of The World

subtractiveLAD just keeps getting better and better. He has done an album for n5MD in each of the last five years. This is his sixth, but you dear reader might have to pry it out of my dying fingers to get a listen.

When last we reviewed Stephen Hummel’s subLAD (on Where The Land Meets The Sky) we found an artist at the zenith of his powers. Some versions of that album gave away a second disc of purely ambient material and this is the path Hummel has chosen to continue exploring. With titles such as ‘Beginning again’ and ‘Always ending’ even the names sound like Eno tracks. The comparison will not end there. Life At The End Of The World could be a contemporary to any of the Eno masterworks. Where Hummel perhaps surpasses the master is in the sustained quality across a whole album. Few ambient albums remain engaging for their entirity. Which, for example, was the greatest Eno album? Music For Airports? Apollo? It isn’t so clear cut. This record is a joy to play from start to finish and proves there need not be a trade-off between variety and consistency. Admittedly certain tracks (‘ne plus ultra’) are strongly reminiscent of the likes of Eno and Budd , many others sound far more modern. ‘Those who lose dreaming are lost’ is far more omminous in tone and wouldn’t be amis in tense movie soundtrack while ‘The deep and lovely quiet’ recalls those beautifully becalmed ( between crescendos ) moments of Sigur Ros . Toward the album climax subLAD will infuse some of the drone he explored previously on Apparatus.

Life At The End Of The World was inspired by Hummel becoming a Father and a more fitting tribute is hard to imagine. In career terms Where The Land Meets The Sky may still be the definative subLAD work but for simple aural pleasure alone this album takes first place. I love it. It is beautiful.




Where The Land Meets The Sky