As per the artist’s website, the moniker Subespai —a Catalan word — means subspace, a scientific theorem way beyond this poor writer’s understanding. However, Subespai also suggests the same word could speak to the innumerable crystalline aspects of one’s existence, entities with a million million surfaces twinkling in the void. Heavy stuff, to be sure, and something Subespai continues to explore with the latest release, City Circles.
To open the record, a warbling low end pulses in the forefront with what sound to be voices and chirping birds ringing in the background. The same throbbing bass positions the listener as a solitary character moving slowly through a world in the process of waking before eventually fading away, ceding space for newly roused chimes and synths to emerge. It isn’t long, however, before a beacon begins sounding in the distance, ringing out principally amidst gently tolling bells; and while the bells never build to give pause or to warn, the absence of the birds and the rising sound of waves immediately bring about a brooding sensibility. Tape hiss builds slowly alongside the single pulsing synth until the latter begins to fade with the emergence of gentle rainfall and a warm, pulsating tone — a cousin to the low end that introduced the album — makes itself known. And, just as the elasticity of time expresses itself under the warmth of the sun by blinking away, the tape hiss fades, the pulsing warmth of the synth fades, and everything goes quiet.
In many ways, City Circles feels like an exploration of connection, of emerging from our wombs of safety, out into the wilds of life while promising, in the end, to be absorbed into overwhelming light. Subespai succeeds, most certainly, in prompting the listener to translate sound to existential examination. However, it’s important to note City Circles also stands on its own as simply a wonderful soundtrack; as much as opportunity is presented to go inward, there seems to be just as much opportunity to simply sit in the moment of listening and release attachment, to release the need to parse meaning from everything.
With a 28-minute runtime and existing as a single track, there is the possibility one might feel challenged the listen to City Circles in full, and that’s understandable. Subespai, however, has crafted a wonderful record full of ebbs and flows and shifting moods, filled with opportunities to check aspects of the album on an almost quartered basis. The album is well worth a listen, however the listener approaches it.
City Circles is out right now via chemical imbalance. and can be ordered here.
Words: Tristan McCallum