A masterful album from a talented artist who infuses ambient music with ASMR textures.
The title track is a spine-tingling combination of pensive jazz piano figures, creepy drones and ASMR-indebted creaks and clicks. About two thirds of the way into the song, a mellow post-rock drum beat kicks in—perhaps nodding to Aleksandra Zakharenko's past as a percussionist—bringing to mind woozy, expansive post-rock groups like Bark Psychosis. A jazzy, droning, ASMR-infused post-rock track might sound like the brainchild of a Boomkat employee, but in Perila's hands, it feels utterly natural—a sound you don't know you want until you hear it.
This free-flowing, instinctive creativity is what sets Zakharenko's music apart from the terabytes of ambient tracks uploaded to Bandcamp each month. Like the field recording-focused music by her collaborator Ulla, or the Texas artist Claire Rousay, Zakharenko's recordings take a diaristic tone. "I make music as I live, it's my sonic life diary," she told Inverted Audio last year. This "music as life" philosophy picked up steam during the pandemic, when Perila released album after digital album full of murmured spoken word and ambient textures, the experimental music equivalent of morning pages.
How Much Time It Is Between You And Me? feels grander. Perhaps it's due to appearing on a bigger label—the long-running Norwegian outlet Smalltown Supersound—but more likely, it's down to the circumstances of its creation. The new LP was recorded in September 2021 in a rural village in France, where Zakharenko was surrounded by mountains with no access to the Internet.
The music feels appropriately epic. "Air Like Velvet" mixes a peaceful drone with juddering white noise, sounding like it was recorded in a tent shelter on the approach to some craggy peak. "Untitled," on the other hand, has skittering, barely there percussion that sounds like a leaf doing a digital dance in the wind.
It's somewhat difficult to describe this in-the-box sound art—perhaps some comparisons will give you a ballpark. "Memories Of Grass" is a sub-bass heavy drone pop (used very loosely) song that puts me in mind of Black Dice's epochal 2002 full-length, Beaches & Canyons. The following cut, "Enchiz," summons the lurching hi-def psychedelia of Tim Hecker and the abstracted clicks and cuts of the Mille Plateaux label.
However, it's Zakharenko's vocals that lend How Much Time It Is Between You And Me? its disembodied yet powerful beating heart. On "Time Date," she returns to the clock, a frequent motif in her music, voicing poetic yet nonsensical phrases like "3:69 PM... who says it should be linear." But she also has a haunting singing voice, as heard on "Vaxxine," a kind of a cappella accompanied by effects where Perila sings, "Memories... true stories, true feelings," and we feel that. The final two tracks, "Cradle" and "Fallin Into Space," reveal Zakharenko's subtle gift for songcraft—the latter's two chords, whispered reverence and, eventually, abstracted trip-hop rhythms evoke any number of ghost pop landmarks. If Perila's previous records were sonic diaries, How Much Time It Is Between You And Me? is autofiction, in which atmosphere and memory are shaped into a gripping, sensational narrative.