Release is the second album from Elskavon, the ambient moniker of 26-year old Minneapolis composer Chris Bartels. This collection of songs continues on the path where the late 2012 debut album Movements In Season ended, with large, lush atmospheres and open textures.

Ambient music has always been able to create opportunities for listeners to interpret emotions in a variety of ways, and any one song can mean something so different from one set of ears to the next. For Chris, inspiration for these songs arrives in a similar fashion. It comes from all sorts of angles – love and friendship, hope and doubt, life and death.

Residents of Minnesota know the drastic difference of the four calendar seasons all too well. Summer in the “land of 10,000 lakes” is overwhelmingly beautiful, while winter is, to say the least, frigid. While certainly bound to be diverse in interpretation, Release was originally inspired by the many Minnesota winters Chris has experienced. It is the first of a double album. A ‘spring’ version will follow, after a predictably chilled few months.

The album opens with the expansive, airy four-and-a-half minute crescendo titled “We Can All Be New.” The listener is encouraged to become lost in the grand calm of spacious vocals, guitars, and sampled atmospheres. This leads to an immediate transition with the second track, “Small Hands,” which was written in anticipation of Chris’ and his wife’s first child, who will join them in the spring. The simple piano piece is reminiscent of any number of calming neo-classical songs or minimalist film scores.

Containing three less songs than the debut Movements In Season yet nearly the same length as a whole, Release exercies a bit more open space, minimalism, and droning techniques.

Whatever the interpretation, whatever the emotions evoked, whatever the meaning perceived, listeners are encouraged to allow Elskavon’s Release to become a soundtrack to the freedom of letting go and the beauty of holding on.


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