Sound Impression: Citation Index by Olan Mill

Whether working on his own as Olan Mill or collaboratively as part of Pausal, Ampersand, or ilm, Alex Smalley has been among the most compelling artists in the field of experimental ambient and electronic music for over a decade now. After relocating to Germany and becoming a father circa 2018, Smalley signalled a conclusion of sorts for the Olan Mill project, but creative work is cyclical by nature and fortunately for us, it appears to have more a case of the end of one phase giving way way to the birth of another that has already yielded some wonderful new thematically centered works.

Sacred Geometry (Dronarivm, 2019) was an exploration of mathematical elegance of nature while the newly released Citation Index layers recordings of guitar, synthesizer and voice to create an abstract musical lexicon surveying various natural and man-made mechanisms for producing energy.

Energy has become a theme in my work. The albums titles and artwork are based around common methods of energy production. It seems our mastery of physical energy has accelerated many things, so the slow movements of this album aim to counter that in some small way.

Alex Smalley

From the sprawling long form “CI-MXD” that opens the album and continuing through pieces like “Redox”, “Combustion”, and “Photocatalysis”, Smalley binds repeating patterns and threads into something resembling an orchestral suite efflorescing in patient wonder. The idea seems to be less about creating a sonic impression of the processes but more to use them as prompts for thoughtful consideration. An album that can be enjoyed on multiple levels, the track titles may send you scurrying to a dictionary or your favorite search engine to learn more, while the sheer billowing beauty of the music may soothe your soul and animate your own inner resources.

Links: Bandcamp (CD/cassette/digital) | More by Olan Mill | Website

Citation Index is now available digitally and on limited edition CD or cassette from Shimmering Moods Records. Artwork by Richard Wild.

An Olan Mill sampler

“Metatrons Cube” from Sacred Geometry (Dronarivm, 2019)

“Week 9” from Sounds of a New Father (Shimmering Moods, 2018)

“I” from Variations on the Letter H (Unknown Tone, 2018)

“Dexterous Bushwa” from Half Seas Over (1631 Recordings, 2016)

“2” from Land Cycle (Hibernate Recordings postcard series, 2014)

“Disempowered” from Pine (Serein, 2010)