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Rarely you remember the moment you listen to a record for the first time as something clear and tangible - what is retained in the memory is the atmosphere and the emotions that the music evokes, but not much else. Atol Drone (Polycephal 2002) was an altogether different case. It broke through into my mind surreptitiously like a high Pacific wave and for years it held sway over the area of my musical memory responsible for the rough sea, atomic fears, sea fever, incomplete Morse signals nobody can decipher anymore, spectral sounds from a sunken orchestra which keeps on playing, stray radio waves picked up at random by a stranded survivor, and sounds of an approaching freighter, possibly bringing relief and rescue. The world Wolfram conjures up on Atol Drone is an oneiric and delicate one, weaved from delicate samples. Somewhere in the background you can make out murmurs of unrest from a volcano, silence of a never-ending calm interrupted by the sound of a bird gliding in the sky, sea waves rhythmically crashing against a coral reef, sounds of an impending disaster and, finally, violence and cruelty of the enraged Ocean. So intense and powerful is the sense of unrest this album seems to convey that virtually each of its pieces could work as a soundtrack to a film. Its narration, well thought-out composition, and drama-like structure makes it a soundtrack ready to be used in that medium.
Ten years having passed since, the re-issue contains an addition of four new tracks to the original four: GameLAN, Smokgame, Minimumgame, and specially composed for this release Back to the Atol. Yet again, despite the changes I felt the same atomic fears I felt back then. Apparent suspension and calm (SE), soothing drones of cicadas (GameLAN) and nostalgic beauty (Flashback) seem a mere prelude to an imminent disaster (Smokgame, Minimumgame) but a past or a future one? Wolfram makes time freeze - after all, an atoll's exotic, unusual, circular structure imposes repetitions and recurring motifs which may equally be of the present (Back to the Atol) and the past (NW). Both the original and the re-issue bonus tracks evoke a similar rush of emotions and fuel one's imagination in the same way: a landscape extending under the scorching sun, pristine sand on the beaches unspoilt by human foot, the murmur of the sea, palm tree groves waving in slow-motion - the bliss soon to be shattered by an approaching disaster. Tremendously nostalgic and oneiric in each of its track, a perfect collection of atmospheric drone music, born of an exceptional imagination of a Polish artist.