Ambient Song Of The Month: November 2012





Jack Hertz
In The Fog





Jack Hertz, self-assessed synthesist, Ambient musician and resident of the Pacific coast, comes up with one of the most remarkable Dronescapes of 60 minutes in recent times called In The Fog, released on the 45 Echoes Sounds netlabel in April 2012. This release is available for free and can be downloaded over at 45 Echoes Sounds. Hertz cites the legendary fog of the San Francisco Bay Area as his primary inspiration, but the above artwork could also link to mystified Icelandic landscapes or a serpentine path into the unknown. Without poeticizing the interplay of front cover and music any further, I am choosing In The Fog as an Ambient Song Of The Month due to the right timeframe, as fog banks are beginning to swirl much more frequently in larger parts of the world during the autumnal days, but also due to the many ingredients that make an Ambient track of the Drone subgenre so successful. 60 minutes of listening pleasure are not that easily digestible in our times whose name future historians will pinpoint as the short attention era or something in a similar vein. In The Fog, however, is worth your while, as Jack Hertz manages to create a thick arcane fog with the help of synths – so far, so usual – but carefully strays away from overloading them with all too many textures. Everything is balanced out, and it is the interplay between the different patterns and layers which creates the impression of being in a vault-like antrum near a misty field rather than boosting the drugged state of fluffiness or ethereality. What Jack Hertz already presented in his three-track album Green Mist (Earth Mantra, 2012) is successfully continued with this similarly titled opus.



Instead of a slow fade-in, In The Fog launches in medias res, with a meandering cloud of hazy backing synths and an incredibly soft metallic clang aorta already intact. The deep drone layers accentuate the pristine whiteness and coziness, and despite its long runtime of 60 minutes, the arrangement shifts and floats gracefully, but unexpectedly quick: machine-resembling cavernous drones and eerier counterparts of glacial proportions intertwine, break and depart. During those times when nothing much seems to happen and the overall soundscape is rather quiet, the feeling of being in an enigmatic cave is astonishing, only the aforementioned metallic droplets can be clearly heard, with rumbling drones and distant gusts being inferior devices. The terminology I am using might be more than apt for describing a New Age song, but Jack Hertz’s composition is basically anything like this, since it remains firmly in the synth-driven Drone spectrum of things; occasional space flutes move into this territory, but they are only briefly featured and do not function as an essential leitmotif. As the arrangement progresses, several misty synths are injected, be it a surprisingly colorful crystalline balm of airiness, the quavering rotor tremolo of a blue-tinted aquascape, the decidedly crisp plinking synth pads or the polyphony of two or three sine waves whose luminosity extends the iridescence. Wherever Hertz is at, he makes sure that deep drone waves are always present in some form, especially so as In The Fog brightens up and becomes less mysterious rather than transcendent in its final stages. The heavy synth layers thin out and make room for a gorgeously cherubic synth choir-based sunburst which is in constant dialog with the ambiguously acidic-mellow pads and stabs. A true uneasiness can never unfold, and so this tune fades out ever so slowly with this tenser mood intact.



Good Drone music needs to coerce many different layers and soundscapes to depict either a mellow harmony, a forceful disagreement or one of the many steps and alcoves in-between this scale. In The Fog proves to be a masterful track in this regard, as it fully immerses the listener into the eponymous mélange. Right from the get-go, Jack Hertz depicts the swirling majesty of the fog in the form of blurry synths and several fizzling gusts. The many flickering space pads, their acidified darkness as well as the gently bubbling bass drones can be denominated as counterpoints, but it is not that easy, for they also augment the plasticity and impetus of being in a mysterious landscape. Whether the listener uses good speakers or similarly good headphones, the dubby bass layers in this Drone track are always perceptible and downright cozy or relaxing. They stand for the listener’s real being, as they transcend or transfigure him or her into the track as a palpable entity. What sounds melodramatic or esoteric is only one of the effects – or even conclusions – a deep and well-layered Ambient track can furnish. Since Jack Hertz does not present extremely dense synth washes, the ensuing depth of field and occasional lightness can unfold all the better, harking back to the track title with all of its implications. A wonderful whitewashed journey of 60 minutes. And it’s free to download!






Ambient Song Of The Month Review for November 2012: Jack Hertz – In The Fog (2012). Originally published on Nov. 2, 2012 at