Brian Eno’s fingerprints are all over the album Rapid Eye Movement, the latest release by inscrutably ambient instrumental project Setamur, a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Norman Baiocchi and Serbian jazz pianist Melinda Ligeti. Which happens to be a good thing: a sense of suspense pervades pretty everything here. Terse, memorable motifs and fragments of melody float in from the mist, only to return again – and that’s when the duo are keeping it low-key. When they’re not, Baiocchi is flailing and bending strings on his guitar and warping his tones for a surreal, funhouse-mirror attack that often veers off course with an unhinged menace. A cynic might say that those interludes sound like somebody randomly messing around in the studio while the recorder was running, but in this case what the mic captured was worth keeping. Their latest release is out from the reliably adventurous Acoustronica netlabel.
The opening cut, Goodnight Melinda sets shifting banks of coldly synthesized strings against echoey minimalist piano, lush and moody. There are two parts to the guitar instrumental If This Dream Could Talk, the first woozy and surreal, the second building to nightmarish shades with ghostly, plinky reverb-toned harmonics and nails-down-the-blackboard shrieks over murky background atmospherics.
Frammento di Sogno works creepy permutations on a two-chord noir soundtrack vamp, guitar handing off artfully to the piano. They go back to noisy for the bubbling waterfall-from-hell soundscape Emotional Landscapes, then evoke the Cocteau Twins on even more than the usual acid dose on Behind Those Clouds and close with an ominous, Eno-esque seashore scene, Good Morning Melinda. If this is their morning, night is much darker than anybody could imagine.
The duo also have their 5 Coins in a Wishing Well ep streaming at their Bandcamp site; it’s more song-oriented, an intriguing mix of gothic folk and Mediterranean-flavored chamber pop.