It’s easy to get lost in the ambient paintings of All This Here.
How very apropos that All This Here, the first solo ambient record from Jonas Bonnetta (Evening Hymns), started as the score to a documentary called Strange and Familiar: Architecture On Fogo Island. Bonnetta’s musical canvases are both strange and familiar, a transcription of common everyday occurrences that aren’t usually translated into sound: the kiss of wind on the back of one’s neck; a dense fog settling in; the friction of the sea meeting land.
Field recordings made off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fogo Island frame Bonnetta’s musical landscapes, providing the touchstones upon which the record’s spare instrumentation expands. The opening piano notes of “Seldom” could mark the morning sun’s first crack on the horizon or its final surrender at sunset. For all its terrestrial references, the heart of All This Here is its aqueous tempo, set by the ocean’s ebb and flow and marked by its vastness. The shimmering pools of strings on “Stag Harbour” radiate out in ever increasing circles, a dream floating between elements: one plane light as air; the other buoyant and all-enveloping.
It’s easy to get lost in Bonnetta’s ambient paintings. He names each of All this Here’s compositions for a location on Fogo Island, in a sense drawing a map between these towns and outports that’s traced through his field recordings and the record’s interludes. It’s easy to forget that a person is responsible for composing this music, and not Mother Nature herself conducting the crash of waves or crunch of snow underfoot.
The goal of a cinematic score is to make the viewer unaware that it’s even there. When it is successful, a score adapts and blends into the film’s images to the point where they are indistinguishable as separate elements. All This Here accomplishes a similar feat in how it audibly transcribes the physical landscape that inspired it.