Immersion's first release, Oscillating, took elements from electronic music and then stripped them of all but the bare essentials. Production pushed the remaining noises away from mainstream techno roots to create a fresh and organic album.
Since then, Immersion had a brief flirtation with the dancefloor, which was sometimes successful but didn't really play to the project's strengths. Low Impact returns to the organic, challenging perception regarding the structure and arrangement of electronic music.
This is immediately apparent with the tranquil opener Days Under the Sun. There are no beats here; rhythm is carried by faint changes in background textures and the odd hint of playful melodies that dance around them. Harsher elements are introduced in Self Portrait (Immersed Diary), which adds a grating rhythmic pattern, off-set against some whistling loops. Precision is seemingly unimportant; consistency is broken by an off-tempo muted meandering drum loop that gradually fades in as the piece builds.
The other pieces site between these extremes: Homage to Water is a distant, introverted piece that plays in the shadows; Dahab, a highly-structured collections of loops; Expanded Now concludes the collection with a subtle, immersive piece of slowly building interwoven organic sounds.
There's no doubting the quality of this release. It has a contemporary feel yet sounds refreshingly different—almost other-worldly. Perhaps this release is the shape of things to come; it may be subtle on the surface but its mood goes deep and soon becomes all-engrossing.
The first 2000 copies of Low Impact come with a second CD, Backflip, which serves as a kind of history of Immersion's dancefloor leanings during 1994 and 1995. The six tracks are of varying quality, the best being the five-minute-long adrenaline-pumping mayhem of How Long is a Piece of String? If there's any argument that Immersion shouldn't have abandoned the dancefloor then this is it. Shadow is also a worthy track, despite its tinny drum loops, and again goes close to rivalling Low Impact in terms of musical quality.
None of the other tracks have quite the same spark and are either throwaway dance pieces or semi-experimental numbers with catchy beats. Still, the fact that none of these pieces sound out-of-place in today's musical climate is testament to Colin Newman and Malka Spigel's ability to think ahead.
Craig Grannell (October, 1999)