Substans by Circular is the latest release on Ultimae Records and so far in their catalogue it sounds the least Ultimae like. It has often been said that Ultimae artists sound like the record label and while I feel that each artist has his or her own unique sound listening to this album and how un-Ultimae it sounds makes me feel the connection between them all. The fact that this sounds different I feel is definitely a good thing, even though I am a fan of the Ultimae music seeing them branch out is great.
So how exactly does this sound? Well, it's a lot more ambient than previous releases, no ketamine trance tracks, there are beats and rhythms here and even a couple of quite upbeat tracks but even these just have a lighter atmosphere about them than when Aes Dana, Asura and Solar Fields play their heavy plodding beats. I feel though, that many tracks are still likely to be referred to by people as beatless despite the inclusion of beats as mostly they are very subtle. The melodies are subtle too and simple and have the feeling of being disconnected as if floating through the ether. The backgrounds of the tracks are filled with soft ambient drones and subtle melodic noises, none of the usual psychill sounds and yet it sounds to me a lot more psychedelic than most regular psychill. Then again I do find most (proper) ambient to be very psychedelic as it has the power to take the listeners mind away on journeys into oneself as well as through forests, over oceans and into deep space. Each track on this album (except the few more beaty ones) manages to produce these feelings, but although I get the sense of being on a journey I am confused not only about the destination but also the mode of transport. I enjoy each track but there seems to be little synergy between them. The connection between the tracks is missing and leads more to a collection of short moody nocturnes, that while all belonging in the same book, are distinct from one another. I see this album being like Edgar Alan Poe both in mood and style. There are very few long tracks here, most tracks being either short or mid length, the longest being the final track which is still under 10 minutes. As such, a lot of tracks end just as I am getting into them and with little cohesion I often feel disappointed that a great track is over so soon.